Photo Credit: Zahar Abu al-Nasser via Wikimedia
Banned candidate Ofer Cassif, Hadash

Following a long day of deliberations, the Knesset Elections Committee on Wednesday disqualified the Arab slate Balad-Ra’am from running.

Ra’am-Balad is a joint electoral list of two Arab parties which were part of the four-party alliance of The Joint List that received 13 seats in the March, 2015 elections. Internal conflicts ahead of the April, 2019 elections disbanded The Joint List. Ra’am and Balad agreed to run together, mainly to minimize the risk of failing to pass the electoral threshold.

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Balad’s founder, Azmi Bishara, fled Israel following espionage charges. With past members such as Jamal Zahalka and Haneen Zoabi, Balad opposes the very idea of Israel as a Jewish state.

The list members boycotted the committee’s debates, at the end of which 17 representatives supported the disqualification and 10 objected.

The petition against the party’s participation in the upcoming elections was submitted by Likud and Jewish Power – the latter having escaped being disqualified by a single committee vote.

Prime Minister Netanyahu welcomed the disqualification, stating: “Whoever supports terrorism will not be in the Israeli Knesset.”

Ra’am-Balad attacked the decision in a statement saying: “This is a racist decision against the Arab public – a political, racist and populist decision aimed at harming the political representation of the Arab citizens. It is clear to us that a panel of racist parties that do not want to see Arabs in the Knesset would act to disqualify us.”

Did we mention Racist?

The two parties also said they “consider submitting a petition to the High Court following the decision.”

Speaking of which, it should be noted that few in Israel expect the High Court of Justice to approve the committee’s decision regarding the Arab candidates, as it is unlikely that the High Court will accede to the petition of the leftist parties to invalidate Jewish Power.

The Hadash list, headed by Ayman Odeh, was approved by the elections committee, but its only Jewish candidate, Ofer Cassif, who replaced the list’s only Jewish candidate, Dov Khenin, was disqualified.

The petition against Hadash was filed by MK Oded Forer of Yisrael Beiteinu, which appears at this time to be headed for extintion, having failed to cross the threshold vote in every poll over the past few weeks.

Cassif was disqualified by a majority of 10 against 5 votes.

Ofer Cassif is Doctor of Political Philosophy, lecturer and radical leftist activist. He is notorious for his many statements against right-wing activists and the government of Benjamin Netanyahu. On December 28, 2015, Cassif posted on Facebook an attack on Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked whom he called a “neo-Nazi [expletive].”

On Monday, about a hundred years ago this week, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit explained that there was no “cumulative critical mass” that required the disqualification of any of the Arab parties. He did, of course, advocate for the banning of Jewish Power – which is just the kind of thing Israeli AGs do.

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