On Monday night, two days before the Likud primaries, the high court of the Likud movement ruled that David Laniado, who is running in the primaries to represent the party’s Tel Aviv district, cannot be disqualified. Laniado was convicted of breaking and entering in 2011, and last week it was reported that he hid another skeleton in his walk-in closet: in 2010 he was placed on house arrest for assaulting a woman.
The Likud’s elections committee disqualified Laniado last week for concealing his criminal past from potential voters. However, the movement’s high court accepted his argument that the party can’t disqualify a candidate whose crimes have been erased by the statute of limitation.
Netanyahu and the Likud leadership are fully aware that including a known criminal on their election slate would make them the joke of the entire election campaign, what with Netanyahu himself running at the helm of the party while facing four criminal indictments. And while it is true that most of these indictments might fizzle away for several reasons, not the least of which are prosecutorial over-eagerness combined with sloppiness – they can’t afford to let Laniado run, never mind capture a realistic slot.
And so, on Tuesday morning, the Likud’s legal counsel Avi Halevi, on behalf of Chairman Netanyahu, filed a petition with the Tel Aviv District Court to disqualify David Laniado as a candidate in the Likud primaries. The petition is based chiefly on the opinion of the judge who chairs the Likud’s election committee, who disqualified Laniado originally.
Netanyahu himself said Tuesday morning: “I agree with the judge that Laniado should be disqualified and call on the Likud members to vote for other candidates who are worthy and whose election won’t cause unnecessary damage to the Likud.”
Laniado told Srugim in response to the Likud court ruling in his favor: “Justice prevailed. I thank the court for its important and democratic decision and above all, I thank all the activists, members, and newcomers who have not stopped supporting me and helping me in recent times. The Likud is a movement of the people for the people, and as such its door is open to everyone.”
Who knew that when honest Abe Lincoln coined the phrase about the government of the people, by the people, and for the people he included burglars and violent offenders. By the way, should the district court refuse to intervene, Laniado could very well win a spot on the slate that would usher him into the 25th Knesset because no one to date wishes to run against him.