Photo Credit: Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90
Meretz MK Issawi Frej (L) at the Central Elections Committee hearing on his petition to disqualify Jewish Power from running in the coming elections, March 6, 2019.

The Central Elections Committee on Wednesday debated the disqualification of Jewish Power Chairman Michael Ben-Ari, after Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit had announced his support for disqualification over the candidate’s “incitement to racism.”

The AG said an additional appeal, to disqualify the candidacy of Jewish Power member Itamar Ben-Gvir, did not offer sufficient evidence in order to be accepted.

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All the committee’s plenum rulings on the disqualification of Jewish and Arab candidates are expected to be brought before the High Court of Justice.

Esawi Frej (Meretz) and other Arab MKs yelled at Ben Gvir: “Racist, go away.” Ben Gvir retorted saying Frej “thinks he is on the [Turkish flotilla boat] Mavi Marmara.”

The committee plenum decision will likely approve Ben Ari’s candidacy, since the committee is composed based on the relative power of each current Knesset faction: Likud has 5 representatives on the committee, Labor 5, Joint Arab List 3, Yesh Atid 3, Kulanu 3, Shas 2, Tzipi Livni 2, Israel Beiteinu 2, New Right 1, Habayit Hayehudi 1, United Torah Judaism 2, Meretz 1, and Ahmad Tibi 1.

Naftali Bennett’s New Right party attacked the request to disqualify Ben-Ari, saying, “We will vote against the disqualification of Michael Ben-Ari and for the disqualification of [anti-Zionist Arab party] Balad. We are fed up with the hypocrisy and with allowing parties that are fighting the State of Israel into the Knesset.”

On Wednesday morning, Ben-Ari responded to the Attorney General’s position in an interview with Kan, saying, “He mainly copied, pasted, and wrote down incitement and hatred.” Ben Ari suggested his accusers “should bring the entire text.”

He also said that if he were Benjamin Netanyahu he’s be very calm, because the AG is “negligent from the land of the negligent. He did not check the tapes, he did not check that I was talking about the Arab enemy and did not generalize. He brings partial quotes, out of context, and we will respond to these questions before the committee.”

In November 2017, at the annual Rabbi Meir Kahane HY’d memorial ceremony, Ben-Ari delivered a speech in which he said: “We’ll give them another 25 thousand acres, more affirmative action, maybe then they’ll love us. In the end, yes, they love us slaughtered.”

Ben-Ari also said, “Rabbi Kahane taught us that there is no coexistence with them. No coexistence.”

Referring to the Bedouin squatters in the Negev, Ben Ari said, “We have to take care of them, but in their countries of origin.”

Meanwhile, Attorney Ben Gvir filed a 500,000 shekel ($138,000) defamation lawsuit against MK Stav Shafir (Labor), for calling the members of Jewish Power “Nazis” a few days ago. Ben-Gvir attempted to hand-deliver his lawsuit to Shafir, but she refused to accept it. The lawsuit was submitted to the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court Wednesday morning.

Ben-Gvir said: “We will not allow the members of the delusional left to slander and compare Jews to the despicable Nazis who engaged in the destruction of the Jewish people.”

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