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Supreme Court Allows Otzma LeYisrael and Balad Ads

Supreme Court overturns a decision by the Elections Committee to invalidate the campaign ads of Balad and Otzma LeYisrael.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 1/16/2013, 6:16 AM

Justice Asher Grunis
Justice Asher Grunis
Flash 90

The Supreme Court on Tuesday overturned a decision by the Central Elections Committee that invalidated the campaign ads of the Balad and Otzma LeYisrael parties.

A panel of five judges, headed by Supreme Court President Justice Asher Grunis, ruled that "the campaign ad of the Balad list will be shown in full. The campaign ad of the Otzma LeYisrael list will be shown in full as well, without omitting any sentences."

The judges thus overturned a previous decision of Justice Elyakim Rubinstein, chairman of the Central Elections Committee, who censored both ads.

Otzma Leyisrael’s ad was censored for implying that Arabs are more likely than others to not pay taxes, while Balad’s was banned for allegedly disrespecting the national anthem by depicting nationalist Knesset members singing the anthem, "Hatikvah", to an Arabic tune.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) filed an appeal to the Supreme Court over the Elections Committee’s censorship of both ads.

Grunis wrote in the ruling that "the elections for the 19th Knesset are being held in the shadow of one of the most significant changes in the media world. The ads on TV and radio, once the central method for transferring information from the parties to the public, are now only one part of an entire system of communications between the elector and the elected."

"Other media outlets, including the Internet, social networks, foreign media and websites of the parties themselves, are taking a growing part in an array of databases that is exposed to the public. It would be sufficient to note that Balad itself, in its petition to the Court, noted that the spot in question had already been circulated in full on leading websites in Hebrew and Arabic, and has gotten coverage by TV networks around the world," added Grunis.

He noted, "In this situation, when it is possible to transmit information from the parties to the public - directly or indirectly - in ways that the law did not anticipate in advance, we should consider the need to adjust the laws to the changing reality."

Otzma LeYisrael welcomed the Supreme Court's decision, saying, "It appears today that it was our right to bring up the question of the fulfillment of obligations in some parts in the Arab sector and demand the fulfillment of obligations in turn for rights."

"The Supreme Court ruled today that it is also allowed to ask questions about the loyalty and the fulfillment of laws among residents of Sakhnin and east Jerusalem, and those who prevented us from broadcasting the ad had done us wrong," added the party.