The Central Elections Committee on Thursday banned the Balad from participating in the elections for the 25th Knesset. Nine committee members voted in favor of the ban, and five against it. Balad announced that it would appeal the decision to the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, the committee rejected two requests to ban Ra’am from running.
Before we continue, here’s the math of the situation: the right wants Balad to run because the polls predict it will fail to cross the vote threshold and therefore grab thousands of votes in vain from its former partners in the Joint Arab List. That’s why the right-wing bloc parties did not petition the committee to ban Balad.
מהומה בוועדת הבחירות: הבקשה לפסול את רע”ם נדחתה, משפחות שכולות מחו נגד מפלגות הימין שנטשו את ההצבעה. “עורכי דין שמצייגים את רע”ם מייצגים מחבלים”, אמר הרצל חג’אג’, אביה של שיר שנרצחה בפיגוע בארמון הנציב@SuleimanMas1 pic.twitter.com/iv71Npty6c
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The left-wing bloc parties only want Balad to run separately from the Joint List, because Balad is a fiercely antisemitic party and makes no bones about it, while the List is also fiercely antisemitic but keeps it quiet for the most part. They even have a token Jewish MK. The bottom line is that the left could use the List without Balad to reach the desired 60+ seats because they’re, you know, acceptable. Like Ra’am.
The applications for banning Ra’am were submitted by the Choose Life Forum, the Bereaved Families Forum, and the Ad Kan Organization.
The petition against Balad was submitted by one of the dozens of parties that don’t stand a chance to even see the threshold, never mind cross over it. The party is “We are together – for a new social order,” and they want Balad banned because it supports the transformation of the State of Israel into a state of all its citizens, thus “negating the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.”
Turns out that’s the argument the committee had been waiting for, and bang – Balad is out. Except that antisemitic Arab parties are banned every election season, only to be spared by the High Court of Justice. The only one who wasn’t spared so far is Michael Ben Ari, because he, you know, Rabbi Kahane, very substantial arguments that he’s a racist, don’t ask. I know Ben Ari – he doesn’t have a racist bone in his body. He does love Jews, a lot, so maybe that counted as racism.
If the court keeps the ban on Balad, the right is in a bit of trouble, since the Joint Arab List stands to win 5 or 6 mandates. If Balad runs, the List is down to 4. Those 2 mandates could go to Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party.
Before the hearing, Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara submitted her opinion to the Central Election Commission, arguing there was no reason to disqualify Balad and Ra’am from running. She noted that the evidence supporting the request to ban Balad did not meet the stringent standards previously established in the Supreme Court’s ruling. Regarding Ra’am, the AG added that it is impossible to conclude from the evidence presented that Ra’am offers material, political or other support in the armed struggle of a terrorist organization.