Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelbilt unsuccessfully recommended the country’s Central Election Committee disqualify Otzma Yehudit leader Michael Ben-Ari, a key ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, from running in April’s national elections.
Mandelbilt accused Ben-Ari of “racist and inciting statements based on national and ethnic characteristics against the Arab population” in a statement justifying this recommendation. He went on to cite quotes by Ben-Ari about Israel’s Arab minority population that described them as a “fifth column” with a “murderous and treacherous nature” and noted that only “one percent or less than one percent” were loyal to the Israeli nation.
“This harsh and extreme evidence prove this (incitement against Arabs) is the main agenda and cause for the above mentioned Knesset nominee… He works to make these ideas a reality and his running for public office aims to facilitate it,” Mandelbilt continued.
Even more bizarrely, Mandelbilt recommended that both far-left Jewish candidate Ofer Kasif and the radical Ra’am-Balad alliance, which consists of Hamas-sympathetic Islamists and left-wing Arab nationalists, be allowed to stand for election, even though the committee, which consists of current Knesset members, ultimately voted to disqualify them.
However, by a narrow 16-15 margin, the committee voted to allow Ben-Ari and fellow Otzma Yehudit candidate Itamar Ben-Gvir to run in the election. Despite this, Tamar Zandberg, the leader of the progressive Meretz party, is planning to appeal the decision to the judiciary.
Ben-Gvir subsequently clarified Otzma Yehudit’s attitude towards Arabs.
“We’re not against all Arabs. Only those that are not loyal to the State of Israel,” Ben-Ari told Israel’s Channel 12.
Otzma Yehudit, known in English as Jewish Power, is a patriotic right-wing party comprised of followers of the famous anti-communist Rabbi Meir Kahane, and a member of the Union of Right Wing Parties (URWP), an alliance of religious nationalist parties formed at the direction of Netanyahu. The URWP is aligned with his ruling Likud party in a ‘surplus vote agreement’, which means that the Likud and the URWP pool their votes in the event that neither has enough votes to reach the threshold for an additional seat in Israel’s Knesset.
On Friday, Mandelbilt recommended that Netanyahu be indicted for corruption in a well-timed effort to aid the Israeli opposition in ousting the Prime Minister. Now, he has made a brazen attempt to abuse his position in order to target Netanyahu’s political allies. The Israeli deep state is evidently trying to undermine Netanyahu at any turn, but it remains to be seen whether they will succeed.