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Yisrael b'Aliyah chairman Natan Sharansky yesterday called on the President of the Supreme Court, Justice Aharon Barak, "to act at once to reduce the involvement of [Central Elections Committee Chairman] Justice Mishael Cheshin in the current election campaign."

In his letter to Barak, which Sharansky describes as "an urgent emergency call," the housing and construction minister criticizes Cheshin for what he calls "excessive and irregular activity," which, he claimed, hurt the image of the Supreme Court in particular and democracy in general.

"The debates on substantive issues have been sidetracked by treacherous elements," wrote Sharansky, "while Justice Cheshin, without any malicious intuitions, is being used by them." Sources close to Sharansky say that "Cheshin gives the clear impression that he enjoys his standing in the center of the political stage, and his entire demeanor shows how far to the left he is."

Sharansky's criticism of Cheshin drew both positive and negative responses and counter-responses. Shinui lawmaker Avraham Poraz said that "Sharansky is still living in the communist era of the Soviet Union and his mentality is that of a Soviet prison. He has become a collaborator with the right-wing and ultra-Orthodox parties, against the interests of the immigrant population."

Sharansky's party colleague Yuli Edelstein describe Poraz's comments as "racist. Shinui members should think twice before preaching democratic values to a man like Sharansky, who sacrificed years of his life to fight a cruel and dictatorial regime."