Following a petition by the Meretz Party, the Chairman of the Central Elections Committee, Judge Yitzhak Amit, on Wednesday evening disqualified Amichai Chikli from running on the Likud slate to the Knesset. Idit Silman’s candidacy was approved.
The Knesset House Committee voted in April in favor of declaring Chikli a defector from the Yamina party.
The declaration would have barred Chikli from running in the upcoming elections in any Knesset party which currently exists. In July, however, Chikli reached a deal with the Jerusalem District Court which stipulated that he would resign from his Knesset seat in exchange for not being sanctioned in the upcoming election.
Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu announced earlier this month that Chikli, Silman and several other candidates of his choice were reserved spots on the Likud election slate.
In his ruling disqualifying Chikli, Judge Amit wrote that permitting him to run would render section 6a of the Knesset Basic Law meaningless, “thereby harming the public's trust in the 'rules of the game' as established by the Knesset itself.”
The Likud said it intends to petition the Supreme Court against the ruling. "The Likud sees this absurd decision as a serious harm to democracy - we will appeal to the Supreme Court."
Chikli responded to the Election Committee chairman's decision to disqualify his candidacy and told Channel 14, "The judge can decide one way or the other, it doesn't matter to me. I am ready to pay the price and the main thing is that I kept my principles. Judge Amit is a politician wearing a judge’s cloak and his decision is scandalous."
Meretz, which asked to disqualify Chikli, argued that the Knesset Basic Law "forbids a member of the Knesset who defected from his faction and did not resign from office close to his defection, from being included in the following Knesset elections, in a slate of candidates submitted by a party that was represented by a faction of the outgoing Knesset."
The chairman of the Religious Zionism Party, MK Bezalel Smotrich, responded on his Twitter account to the ruling, and wrote, "Amichai Chikli was a righteous man in Sodom, the only one from the Yamina Party who was loyal to the voters and the values of the right-wing all along and was disqualified by an absurd decision."
MK Galit Distel Atbaryan of the Likud also responded and said, "We live in a country that punishes a promising young politician just because he insisted on integrity. You will never walk alone Amichai, we are all with you."