Judge Elyakim Rubinstein, who chairs the Central Elections Committee, on Sunday imposed a 72,000 shekel fine on the Habayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home), over what he said was its failure to remove an ad that shows Likud leader Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu side-by-side with Jewish Home head Naftali Bennett.
Last week the Likud filed a complaint with the Elections Committee, saying that the ad’s creators were attempting to fool Likud supporters “by sending the misleading, false message that the Prime Minister is turning to citizens who lean toward voting for Likud Beytenu and saying, ‘Don’t vote for me, but for my partner, vote for Naftali Bennett.’”
The ad reads, “Strong together – Vote Bennett,” a reference to the Jewish Home party’s argument that it will help Likud by joining a Likud-led coalition and providing support from the right.
Rubinstein subsequently accepted the Likud complaint, saying that the ads may create the false impression that the Likud Beytenu and the Jewish Home are running for the Knesset together or that there is some sort of agreement between them.
He ordered that the Jewish Home remove all the billboards by Friday at 1:00 p.m. and said the party would not be permitted to use this campaign in its ads which air on Israeli television and radio.
However, the party did not remove the ads and simply painted over Netanyahu’s head with gray paint, causing the Likud to complain to Rubinstein again, saying that simply painting over Netanyahu’s picture was insufficient.
Rubinstein again accepted the complaint, saying the Jewish Home “violated the injunction, both on billboards and in terms of publications on the Internet. The conduct of the respondent raises a sense of trying to dissolve the injunction.”
He added, “After considering the arguments of the parties, I have decided to impose on the respondent a fine of 72,000 shekels.”
The Jewish Home announced after the decision that “at the request of the Likud We will remove the picture of the Prime Minister from our signs. Only Naftali Bennett's picture will now remain and the public will not be confused as to who to vote for.”