Israel’s Supreme Court has disqualified the leader of the extremist Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) party, Michael Ben-Ari, from running in the upcoming general election in April, JNS reported Monday. Overturning an earlier decision by Israel’s electoral committee, the court banned Ben Ari in an 8-1 vote, citing his anti-Arab ideology and “incitement to racism.”
The decision constitutes the first time Israel’s highest court has ever prevented a single individual from running in an Israeli election. Under Article 7A of the Basic Law, “incitement to racism” is one of three actions that disqualify a candidate from running for the Knesset, the Israeli parliament.
Responding to Sunday’s ruling, Ben-Ari called the Supreme Court a “judicial junta that seeks to take over our lives.” Leaders of Jewish Power call themselves disciples of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, who advocated expelling Arabs from Israel and creating a Jewish theocracy.
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Ben-Ari has come under fire for comments he made about Arab citizens of Israel, which Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit previously said amount to “calling for a violent renunciation of the Arab population’s rights.”
In a speech in 2018, Ben-Ari called Israeli Arabs “enemies from within” and said: “We have to change the equation regarding anyone who dares to speak against a Jew.
“[Such a person] is a dead man. He must not come out alive. No expelling him, no stripping him of his citizenship. He does not live! A firing squad takes him out as the Arabs understand [best].” Ben-Ari later insisted that he was referring to the Hamas leadership, not all Arabs, and that his remarks were taken intentionally out of context.
Ahead of the election on April 9, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had forged an alliance with several parties, including Jewish Power, to try to shore up support. It’s likely that the ruling will not interfere with the polls, as other members of Jewish Power remain eligible to run.
The Supreme Court also approved a candidate from the far-left Hadash party, Ofer Kassif, and overturned a ban on an Israeli-Arab alliance called Raam-Balad, which had been accused of links to Palestinian terrorists.
[Photo: ILTV ISRAEL DAILY / YouTube ]