The Central Elections Committee, headed by Arab judge Salim Joubran, voted on Thursday to disqualify Otzma Yehudit candidate Baruch Marzel from running in elections under the joint Yachad – Ha'am Itanu list.
The decision squeaked by with a 17 to 16 majority. Now the High Court will investigate the decision and make a final ruling; past attempts to block Marzel have failed.
Earlier on Thursday the Committee decided to block pro-Hamas MK Hanin Zoabi by an overwhelming 27 for and six against. Zoabi has openly supported the Hamas terrorist group that calls for the genocide of all Jews in its charter.
The pretext given for the disqualification of Marzel is several statements attributed to him which far left groups petitioning the move claimed qualified as "racism."
However as noted, the High Court will make the final decision, and it is anticipated that the judges will adopt the position of Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein who opposed the disqualification of Marzel, as well as that of Zoabi.
Weinstein issued an opinion on Wednesday saying there was no evidence behind the case against Marzel, as it was completely based on uncorroborated newspaper article quotes, and therefore he recommended throwing out the petition.
"Hypocrisy – Marzel no, Zoabi yes?"
Responding to the decision, Ha'am Itanu chairperson Eli Yishai said "the state of Israel and the Israeli Knesset, the Elections Committee disqualifies a Jew that says clearly he is opposed to enemies of Israel and not to Arabs of Israel. The hypocrisy is celebrating here."
Yishai slammed the Labor party and Meretz for supporting the disqualification of Marzel, and for overwhelmingly not supporting the disqualification of Zoabi, "a traitor against Israel."
Labor previously waffled over whether it would support the barring of Zoabi, first saying it would, then backtracking over Arab threats not to join a Labor coalition, to finally saying it would support the process, and in the end as Yishai hinted it voted overwhelming against the barring.
"We will stand and say, 'those for G-d to us,'" Marzel quoted from the Torah. "Those who think Zoabi is okay let them go with Zoabi. Those who think the Torah of Israel is the way…let them come with us."
"We were not racist and are not racist," emphasized Marzel. "I will continue to fight the enemies of Israel. …We will continue to act because we love the people of Israel, the land of Israel and the Torah of Israel and we'll continue with that to the end."
Marzel appraised that the moves against him will only work to give him more awareness in the public and promote his cause, saying that the request to remove him was full of inaccuracies and borderline lies.
Attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir of Otzma Yehudit also criticized the request, saying that even if the false charges it made against Marzel were true they wouldn't constitute grounds to disqualify him.
"We're going to the High Court of course, and we'll say clearly that according to all the laws there isn't a single reason why Baruch Marzel shouldn't be a Knesset member in the next Knesset," said Ben-Gvir.
Marzel, in submitting a response to the petition on Wednesday, noted that the examples given against him show that his opposition to anti-Israel sources is not related to race, as seen in criticism the petition says he made against two MKs of the communist Hadash party, one Arab and one Jewish.
Another key element in the petition was regarding Marzel's refusal to shake hands with Joubran when submitting the Ha'am Itanu party list. Marzel noted he did this not because of Joubran's race but because of what he considers to be his anti-Israel and anti-IDF bias, and that likewise he didn't shake the hands of Jewish judges present who he also considers to be opponents of Israel.