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  • Michael Ben-Ari from the Jewish Power party delivers a statement to the media together with his party's members, Baruch Marzel and Itamar Ben-Gvir, March 17, 2019.

    Michael Ben-Ari from the Jewish Power party delivers a statement to the media together with his party's members, Baruch Marzel and Itamar Ben-Gvir, March 17, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 18 March 2019

Michael Ben-Ari from the anti-Arab Jewish Power party has been banned from contesting in Israel's elections.

Israel's top court disqualified Sunday a far-right Jewish politician from next month's national election and approved the candidacy of a disputed Arab party, overturning decisions by the election board from March 6, a court statement said.

OPINION:

Why The Outrage? 'Jewish Power' Party Is New Norm in Israeli Politics

The Supreme Court rulings were widely expected and unlikely to shake Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's efforts to craft a rightist alliance that might secure him a record fifth term.

The court found in favor of appellants who argued that Michael Ben-Ari of the Jewish Power party had displayed anti-Arab racism. That view was backed by Israel's attorney-general.

Jewish Power is based on the ideology of late Rabbi Meir Kahane who openly advocated expelling Arabs from Israel and establishing a Jewish theocracy.

Meir Kahane and his Kach party in Israel were outlawed in 1994 after killing 29 Palestinians. This party is also dubbed the Jewish KKK and have racist, anti-Arab, ultra-nationalist, and homophobic politics.

The U.S. banned Michael Ben-Ari from entering the states for his association with a “terrorist organization.”

Other members of Jewish Power, a small faction that is part of an ultra-nationalist group which last month forged an election alliance with Netanyahu's Likud party, remain eligible to run.

The Central Elections Committee, a monitoring body made up of delegates of parties in the current parliament, last month approved Ben-Ari's candidacy while disqualifying Raam-Balad, a joint party list representing some of Israel's 20 percent Arab minority.

Netanyahu's bid for reelection has been challenged by a newcomer, former armed forces chief Benny Gantz. Their escalating exchanges of allegations have included corruption, bigotry, forsaking national security and abetting Israel's foes.

The premier's partnership with Jewish Power also drew censure from the United States pro-Israel lobby and even the normally staunch backer for Netanyahu, AIPAC, branded the party "racist and reprehensible".

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