Israeli Central Elections Committee

Israeli Central Elections Committee

The Israeli Central Elections Committee ( _he. ועדת הבחירות המרכזית, "Va'adet HaBehirot HaMerkazit") is the highly controversial body charged under the Knesset Elections Law of 1969 to carry out the elections for the upcoming Knesset. The committee is composed of Knesset members (and delegates) representating various parliamentary groups and is chaired by a Supreme Court Justice. Tasks for the committee include the authorization of party lists running for the Knesset, election financing, and publication and appeals of election results. [ [ The Central Elections Committee] Knesset website]


1985 Amendments

In 1985, the Knesset approved a law which, for the first time, allowed the committee to disqualify a party list on the grounds of its ideological platform. The law allowed the committee to bar parties from elections that negate the existence of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, made incitements to racism, or supported the armed struggle of an enemy state or terrorist organization against the state of Israel. [ Entry barriers to the Knesset race] Haaretz, 13 May 2002] The first provision, dealing with the existence of Israel as a Jewish state, has been the most controversial since it is possible that parties favoring a one-state solution could be banned under it.

1988 Party Bans

The committee decided to ban the Progressive List for Peace (PLP) and the Kach Party in 1988. The former was banned for allegedly negating the existence of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state; the later party was banned because of incitements to racism. The Supreme Court of Israel sustained the ban against Kach, but overturned the ban on the PLP reasoning that it was impossible to determine that "the real, central and active purpose [of the list] is to bring about the elimination of the State of Israel as the state of the Jewish people".

2003 Party Ban Controversy

In 2003, Likud MK Michael Eitan initiated a move to ban the Ta'al Party from participating in that year's Knesset elections. MK Michael Kleiner, the leader of the right-wing Herut Party, initiated a similar move against the Balad Party, arguing that Balad was "a cover-up for illegal activity" and that it "supports terror organizations, identifies with the enemy and acts against Israel as a Jewish and democratic state." [ [ Right-wing MKs launch bid to disqualify Arab parties] Haaretz, 14 November 2002]

The Central Election Committee proceeded to vote by a one-vote majority to disqualify Balad and Ta'al lists from the elections. Supreme Court Justice Michael Cheshin, who chaired the committee, voted against the ban, stating that there was insufficient evidence to sustain the claims against the parties and individuals within those parties, but also said that Balad's leader Azmi Bishara's past expressions of support of the militant pro-Iranian Hezbollah in Lebanon had angered him. [ [ Election Committee disqualifies MK Bishara and Balad list] Haaretz, 1 January 2003]

The bans were appealed to the Israeli Supreme Court, where the Court unanimously overturned the bans on the Ta'al list and party leader Ahmad Tibi. The Court also overturned the ban on Balad and party leader Azmi Bishara by a 7-4 majority. [ [ Poll ban on Arab Israelis lifted] BBC News, 9 January 2003]


External links

* [ Central Elections Committee website]

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