Photo: Elad Gershgoren
Avichai Mandelblit
Photo: Elad Gershgoren
Ben-Dror Yemini
Israel should be better at disqualifying unsuitable election candidates
Attorney General was right to back a ban for former Kahanist Michael Ben-Ari, but his mental gymnastics over why Balad should not be outlawed were a masterpiece of legal sophistry

During each Israeli election there is a set dance. Zionist parties demand the disqualification of parties or candidates that deny the State of Israel's right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state, and the Central Elections Committee approves the request.



The matter then goes to the High Court of Justice - which regularly overturns the decision and allows the parties or candidates in question to run.


In the 1960s, the High Court imposed a ban on a party similar to Balad, without the need for explicit legislation.


Ofer Cassif (Photo: Moshe Mizrahi)
Ofer Cassif (Photo: Moshe Mizrahi)


In the meantime, an explicit law has been legislated. It states that there is a need to disqualify when there is "explicit or implicit" support for racism, terrorism or denial of Israel's right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state.


It is doubtful whether there is one serious person in the country who cannot appreciate that people like former politicians Azmi Bishara and Hanin Zoabi, or those of the current crop like Ofer Cassif, the Hadash candidate who was disqualified Wednesday, fit this description.


Between election campaigns, when they do not have to present a palatable image to the electorate, these people oppose the Law of Return for Jews and support the "right of return" for Palestinians, and as such it is clear that their disqualification is justified.


Labor representatives also understood this during the last election campaigns, but this week the party did a u-turn, and did not join the demands for these people to be banned.


The attorney general is right in his call to ban Michael Ben-Ari of Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) from running. The racist statements the former Kahanist made justify the decision. But on the other hand, Mandelblit's opinion on why Israel should not disqualify Balad is a masterpiece of legal sophistry. He is engaging in mental gymnastics in order to trample all over the explicit meaning of a law.


Michael Ben-Ari (Photo: Shaul Goan)  (Photo: Shaul Golan)
Michael Ben-Ari (Photo: Shaul Goan)


The disqualification of parties is anchored in the constitutions of most European countries. Even in Turkey, an Islamist party was disqualified despite a ruling party, and in Spain a Basque party was disqualified, partly because it refused to condemn terrorism.


The European Court of Human Rights approved the disqualifications, even though those parties are less extreme than the ones the High Court of Justice and the attorney general refuse to disqualify in Israel.


This is not how you strengthen the rule of law; this is how you trample it. And then we bemoan the lack of public trust in the rule of law.


פרסום ראשון: 03.07.19, 23:25
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