After a full day of stormy debates, the Knesset’s Central Elections Committee (CEC) rejected on Wednesday night, August 14, all three petitions submitted to prevent various parties or lists from running in the September 17th elections. The CEC’s decisions came 34 days before election day, and pertain to petitions submitted specifically against the Joint List, the Blue and White party, and the racist Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) party and its Kahanist candidates Itamar Ben-Gvir, Baruch Marzel and Bentzi Gopstein.
The closest vote was for that calling for the disqualification of Otzma Yehudit, which resulted in a tie of 15 for and 15 against in the 33-member committee, after the representatives of the Labor Party failed to show up for the votes. The Democratic Union and Blue and White accused Labor of purposely absenting itself as part of a deal with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but Labor responded that it was an innocent mistake.
On Tuesday, the day before the CEC met, Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel issued a response to the petition submitted to the CEC by Itamar Ben-Gvir of Otzma Yehudit demanding that the Joint List be barred from participating in the elections. Adalah’s response to the CEC was that the Ben-Gvir’s petition was motivated by racism, pure and simple. Joint List Chairman MK Ayman Odeh elaborated: “There is no other way to say it. This is a request to disqualify the political representation of all Arab citizens. This racist move will be discussed tomorrow by the CEC, a political body some of whose party members promote campaigns of incitement and hate on a daily basis. I recommend that those voting in favor of this anti-democratic disqualification request do so by calling out ‘Kahane Was Right’.”
On Wednesday evening, after the committee voted down Ben-Gvir’s petition, MK Odeh responded: “The CEC rejected the petition against the Joint List, but in the meantime, the Likud has voted for a ‘pure’ Jewish Knesset. Otzma Yehudit may not pass the electoral threshold, but Bibi has inserted Kahanism forever into the heart of the Israeli right.”
After CEC’s the decision, the Joint List announced an event to launch its campaign in Tel Aviv at the “Salame” Hall, next Tuesday, August 20, 7:00 pm, 91 Herzl Street in South Tel Aviv.