Itamar Ben Gvir
Itamar Ben GvirHezki Baruch

The Central Elections Committee decided on Wednesday evening to accept the petition of the Likud and Otzma Yehudit parties and disqualified members of the Balad party from running for the 21st Knesset.

17 of the committee members voted in favor of disqualifying Balad and 10 voted against. Representatives of the Blue and White party joined the right-wing parties and voted in favor of disqualifying the party.

The decision was made against the opinion of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, who recommended not to disqualify the party's candidacy for the Knesset.

During the hearing, Attorney Itamar Ben Gvir argued in favor of the disqualification of the Balad party and presented a wealth of evidence indicating the party’s support for terrorism and the negation of Israel’s existence as a Jewish state.

"Everyone knows Hanin Zoabi’s actions, but contrary to claims that as soon as she left Balad the party changed its face, the new chairman Mtanes Shehadeh was photographed with a terrorist who threw a grenade in Haifa, praised MK Azmi Bishara who spied for Hezbollah and called him a hero and declared that the Balad party sent him greetings," Ben Gvir said.

He also mentioned party candidate Mazen Ghanaim, who sent greetings to the residents of Gaza in the midst of Operation Cast Lead, and the recent Balad conference in Nazareth where the Palestinian flag was raised and the Palestinian anthem was sung.

Attorney Yousef Jabareen, the Balad party's representative, did not deny what was brought up in the discussion, and even claimed that there was no problem with the fact that the Balad party chairman said that Azmi Bishara was a hero and that the party had sent him a greeting, saying that in any case Bishara has already left the country.

Ben Gvir replied that "Bishara did not leave but rather fled, and what was in the Balad party in the past is what will be in it in the future. The list supported terrorism, it supports terrorism now as well, and it has no place in the Israeli Knesset."

The Ra’am-Balad party responded angrily to the Central Election Committee's decision. "The decision to disqualify the Ra’am-Balad list is a political, racist and populist decision aimed at harming the political representation of Arab citizens. It is clear to us that a panel made up of racist parties that do not want to see Arabs in the Knesset will act to disqualify us. The Ra’am-Balad list is a list that presents a democratic platform and works to promote full equality of rights for all citizens."

"We will work to abolish the authority of the Elections Committee to disqualify lists and candidates, and we will submit a bill on this matter. We will consider filing a petition to the Supreme Court following the decision. It is already clear that there is no legal basis for disqualifying the list, and all the arguments raised in the disqualification requests are not new and were discussed in the past in the Supreme Court and rejected," the party said.