Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu announced Thursday that it would petition the High Court of Justice to overturn the Central Election Committee’s decision that the party could not distribute copies of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo during the pre-election period.
CEC head and Supreme Court Judge Salim Joubran issued a decree late Wednesday against the distribution, accepting a request of a list of Arab parties, who argued that the copies of the last edition, which carry a caricature of the Prophet Mohammed, are offensive to Muslims.
Arab-Israeli lawmaker Ahmed Tibi expressed satisfaction at the decision, calling it a "victory of sanity over extremism."
Yisrael Beiteinu wrote in its announcement on Thursday: "Even if the reason given for not allowing [distribution] is procedural, the Central Elections Committee’s decision is a submission to terror, to the threats of the Arab parties, and is a harsh blow to freedom of expression. In light of the threats sounded by the Arab MKs over the danger to public peace that would arise if the magazine was distributed, this decision sends a very bad message that gives way to threats and subordinates Israeli democracy. We won’t agree to this and hope the High Court rules that in a Jewish state, Jews too have the right to freedom of expression."
Hundreds of copies of the Charlie Hebdo edition have arrived at Yisrael Beiteinu headquarters in recently days.
Lieberman had instructed young party activists hand them out for free, after Israel’s main bookstore chain, Steimatzki decided not to sell the edition in its shops but only online.
A special event planned at a Steimatzki store in a mall outside Tel Aviv, at which the first issue would have been sold, was canceled following protests by Israeli Arabs.