Chikli and Abu Shehadeh will challenge electoral disqualifications

Rebel MK Amichai Chikli petitioned the High Court on Friday to overturn the Central Elections Committee’s decision to disqualify him from running in the upcoming Knesset parliamentary elections.

The Arab nationalist Balad party said it would also appeal the central election commission’s decision to disqualify it for the November 1 vote, faction leader Sami Abu Shehadeh said.

Both decisions were widely expected, although it appeared that Balad had considered dropping a High Court petition and boycotting the poll.

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Chikli, who entered the Knesset last year with Yamina but is now seeking to run with Likud, was disqualified on Wednesday after the left-leaning Meretz party filed a petition claiming he violated election regulations designed to prevent MPs elected by one party from switching to another party mid-term.

Chikli, who had been placed 14th on the Likud electoral list by Netanyahu, entered the Knesset last year with Yamina but refused to vote for the ragtag coalition he helped build and directed. In July, he resigned his seat in the Knesset after reaching an agreement with the Jerusalem District Court that allowed him to avoid punishment in the upcoming elections.

Meretz claimed he did not resign in due time after leaving Yamina and should therefore be personally sanctioned for running with a Knesset party in November.

Amichai Chikli at a Knesset committee meeting on the Yamina party’s request to declare him a “defector”, April 25, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Likud had said it would appeal the decision to the High Court of Justice, a common practice in the election cycle following decisions by the Central Elections Committee. The High Court has a practice of overturning such decisions in most cases.

Chikli described the decision to disqualify him as “an unprecedented injustice”. On Friday, he told the Kan public broadcaster that he feared Supreme Court Justice Uzi Fogelman would tamper with the election results if there was no clear winner.

“The chairman of the central electoral commission has proven that he is politically biased,” he said.

Meanwhile, Balad leader Abu Shehadeh promised his party would show up at all costs and “surprise everyone”, accusing Defense Minister Benny Gantz of “trying to create an Arab leadership according to his standards”.

The Central Elections Committee, which is made up of representatives from the current Knesset parties, on Thursday accepted a petition that the party is undermining Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.

Balad and several of his lawmakers have been disqualified by previous election commissions, and have so far won all appeals to the High Court to be reinstated.

The petition had been backed by Gantz’s HaMahane HaMamlahti party, while most other parties abstained from voting on the issue.

Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara said on Thursday that there was no reason to disqualify either Balad or the Islamist Raam party. The commission eventually cleared Raam to run for office, rejecting petitions that the party supported terrorist organizations.

Under Article 7A of the Basic Law of the Knesset, a Knesset member’s candidacy must be disqualified if his or her actions or statements have the effect of denying the existence of the State of Israel as a as a Jewish and democratic State, to incite racism or to support the armed struggle of an enemy State or a terrorist organization against the State of Israel.

Balad is unlikely to cross the 3.25% electoral threshold needed to enter the next Knesset. As a result, the party could take a significant number of Arab votes with it, which could play a key role in the predicted standoff between rival political blocs in favor of the right-wing religious bloc led by Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu. This possibility has caused political actors to reconsider their approach to Balad’s candidacy.

While right-wing parties have opposed Balad’s candidacy in the past, Abu Shehadeh accused Yair Lapid and Gantz – whose centrist parties are likely set to profit from Balad’s ousting – of being on the sidelines. origin of this reversal.

1664725480 112 Chikli and Abu Shehadeh will challenge electoral disqualifications

Knesset Elections Committee Director Orly Adas, third from right, Yitzhak Amit, center, Elections Committee Chairman, and lawyer Ilan Bombach, second from right, Elections Committee Deputy Chairman, during a discussion regarding Raam’s disqualification from the upcoming Israeli elections, at the Knesset, in Jerusalem, September 29, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Before the commission convened, Gantz released a statement saying his party’s representatives on the commission would vote to disqualify Balad, accusing the faction of operating “in an extremist fashion against the state.”

Likud, meanwhile, boycotted Central Elections Committee hearings on Raam and Balad, calling the case a “political trickery” designed to harm its right-wing bloc.

Meretz MK Gaby Lasky accused Likud, which has in the past asked both the Central Elections Committee and the High Court to disqualify Balad, of changing its stance out of political expediency.

On Friday morning, Meretz also filed a petition with the High Court over the Central Elections Committee’s decision not to disqualify former coalition leader and Yamina MK Idit Silman, who sought to run with Likud in view of the upcoming elections.

The left-wing party had argued that Silman, like Chikli, had not resigned before the necessary deadline after leaving Yamina, and was therefore disqualified from joining Likud, according to Article 6A of the law. foundation of the Knesset. The commission, however, disagreed and dismissed the petition.

Silman abruptly left the political alliance led by then-Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in April, both resigning as coalition leader and stripping the coalition, which she had worked hard to support. until then, of his majority in the Knesset. Silman’s resignation plunged the Knesset into a three-month crisis that culminated in the fall of the coalition and consequently the calling of snap elections.

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Chikli and Abu Shehadeh will challenge electoral disqualifications

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