Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit is planning to recommend to the Central Election Commission on Tuesday that he believes Otzma Yehudit candidates Ben-Zion Gopstein and Baruch Marzel should be disqualified from running for the Knesset. However, Mandelblit believes that the party should be allowed to run, despite the fact that senior justice ministry officials wish to disqualify it, and especially its leader, Itamar Ben-Gvir.
The AG based his call for disqualification on what he describes as controversial quotes associated with both candidates.
Marzel said: “When we finish dealing with the enemy (the Arabs), tens of billions of shekels will become available, which we are wasting today. 60% of the Social Security money goes to the enemy.”
Marzel’s quote may make some people uncomfortable, so we checked and discovered a steady preferential treatment of Arab Israelis: according to a 2009 study, while the proportion of residents in the Arab municipalities in Israel is about 14% of the overall population, they only collect 2% of the national income from property taxes, while receiving no less than 38% of the adjustment grants. And in 2013, the Arab municipalities received aid to the tune of NIS 1 billion compared with 1.6 billion for Jewish municipalities, meaning that the Arab municipalities received about NIS 1,000 per capita, compared with only NIS 258 in the Jewish municipalities (Source: Mida).
Whether one believes Israeli Arabs are the enemy or not, they certainly take quadruple their share of the national treasure.
Gopstein’s disqualifying statement was a reference to his daughter’s wedding, which went: “Let’s just say that if there was an Arab waiter here he would not serve the food, he would be looking for the nearest hospital.”
Talk about fishing under the rug for evidence…
Yamina chairwoman Ayelet Shaked objected to Mandelblit’s position, and said that Otzma Yehudit should be allowed to run as they are and let the voters decide.
“I don’t think that because of this or that harsh statement a person should be disqualified from running for the Knesset,” she said, recalling: “[Joint Arab List candidate] Ofer Cassif said I was neo-Nazi scum, so for that he didn’t run to the Knesset?”
Regarding Itamar Ben-Gvir, Mandelblit was supposedly conflicted, but his ultimate recommendation is expected to be to confirm Ben-Gvir’s running.
The central election commission will decide the matter soon, and its decision will almost automatically move up to the Supreme Court, regardless of which way it turns.
Ben-Gvir responded in an interview to News 13, stating, “I am not surprised by the delusional conduct of the AG and the State Attorney. We have not yet responded to the Reform movement’s and the left’s petition to disqualify us, so I would have expected that a decent and worthy AG would have waited to hear what Marzel and Gopstein have to say before he disqualified them – this is extremely serious. There are people in the Knesset who call and preach for the murder of soldiers, but all of them, according to Mendelblit and [State Attorney Shai] Nitzan, are kosher.”
“I hope and believe that the election commission will fix this matter,” Ben-Gvir said.
A statement from the Otzma Yehudit party said: “It has once again been revealed that the AG is working for the Reform and serves as a representative of the extreme left in the justice ministry. The questionable leak of his position, when the Otzma Yehudit response has not yet been filed, shows that his position was decided in advance.”
“Despite the fact that the AG has been presented with a long list of serious acts and statements by the Knesset members of the joint Arab List, including visiting and assisting terrorist prisoners, Mandelblit doesn’t even think of disqualifying them. He refuses to accept the Supreme Court’s decision that Baruch Marzel could run for Knesset, and is acting in an anti-democratic manner. Such an AG should be sent home tonight.”
Baruch Marzel said in a statement: “The cat is out of the bag. There is no legal opinion here, only the political views of Mandelblit and Nitzan who did not even try to create the impression of justice. Their decision was made in advance. This is, unfortunately, the shape of Israel’s judicial system.”
Benzi Gopstein said: “The Reform have been trying unsuccessfully for years to prosecute me, so when they did not succeed through the courts, they turned to their representative in the justice ministry – Avichai Mandelblit.”