Why did the Israeli Supreme Court ban Otzma Yehudit candidate?

Justices release document explaining decision to bar Otma Yedudit candidate and former MK, Dr. Michael Ben Ari, from running for Knesset.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Justice Esther Hayut
Justice Esther Hayut
Esti Dzubov/TPS

Justices from the Israeli Supreme Court published a document Thursday explaining their reasons for disqualifying candidates for the elections for the 21st Knesset in April.

The justices wrote that their decision to disqualify Otzma Yehudit candidate Dr. Michael Ben Ari was based on 40 pieces of evidence which were brought before them which they defined as racist and offensive.

"This evidence includes Ben Ari's statements in his voice in various videos and from which, in the words of the attorney general, an unequivocal, clear and convincing picture emerges of incitement to racism against the Arab public as a whole," they wrote.

Supreme Court President Esther Hayut, who wrote the ruling, noted that "the right to vote and be elected is the soul of every democratic regime, and the ideological foundation on which this right is based is anchored in fundamental principles of equality and freedom of political expression."

Justice Hayut continued: "Significant reservations are also required to prevent participation in the elections of lists and candidates who wish to use democratic tools in order to deny the very existence of the state or to harm its basic principles."

The Otzma Yehudit party said in response: "The judges' reasons for their hallucinatory, anti-democratic and scandalous decision to disqualify Dr. Michael Ben-Ari in the last elections published today show how deep the critical change which is required in the High Court is."

"On the one hand, the court enables legal acrobatics to deal with supporters of terror from Balad and Hadash, and explains how statements calling for the murder of IDF soldiers and settlers are protected by freedom of expression, and on the other hand, regarding Dr. Michael Ben Ari, it accepts Mendelblit's arguments without any substantive and principled reason," the party said.

"The High Court believed the terrorists Azmi Bishara and Hanin Zoabi, who declared that "they do not intend to expel all the Jews." Ben-Ari's statement, which is realized even in his actual actions, is that he does not intend to expel all the Arabs from Israel, but only those who are not loyal to the State of Israel. The court did not believe or understand it, and disgracefully disqualified him from running for office."

Otzma Yehudit candidate Itamar Ben-Gvir said he was "embarrassed" by the court's explanation of the decision to ban Ben-Ari from running.

"I'm reading the Supreme Court's explanation for overruling the election committee's decision and banning my friend, Dr. Michael Ben-Ari, while at the same time overruling the committee's decision and permitting the Israel-hating Balad [party] and [Hadash candidate] Ofer Cassif] and I am embarrassed. I'm embarrassed that the justice system is so discriminatory, and shows mercy to the cruel and twists justice."