Ra'am-Ta'al Allowed to Remain in Election Race Despite Hamas Ties

Central Election Committee casts vote after leaders of list say they are to meet Hamas' PM-designate next week.

Yoav Stern
Gideon Alon Haaretz Service
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Yoav Stern
Gideon Alon Haaretz Service

The Central Election Committee on Tuesday decided not disqualify the Ra'am Ta'al list after its leaders said earlier in the day they intend on meeting with Hamas' prime minister designate Ismail Haniyeh next week.

In the vote, 18 committee members objected and 16 members voted in favor of disqualifying the list. CEC chairman Justice Dorit Beinisch abstained and Shinui's representatives cast the deciding votes in the session.

MK Ahmed Tibi, second on the Ra'am-Ta'al list, said Tuesday that he and Ra'am-Ta'al leader Sheikh Ibrahim Zarzur are to meet with Hamas' prime minister designate Ismail Haniyeh next week.

Appeals to disqualify the Ra'am-Ta'al party were submitted by the Likud and three other parties, which say the liast has declared support for Hamas and the destruction of the State of Israel.

Tibi: Jewish-democracy is a logical fault In the meeting, Zarzur denied that his party wants to establish an Islamic state in Israel and said that he was calling for an Israeli withdrawal from the territories and for the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Tibi told the committee that there was a logical fault in defining Israel as both a Jewish and a democratic state. According to Tibi, a democratic awards equal rights to all its citizens, while a Jewish state discriminates against people according to their ethnic background.

"You cannot harm the entire elections system and the authentic representation of the Arab public by submitting disqualification requests," Tibi added.

Chairman Beinisch ordered extreme-rightist Baruch Marzel to leave the room where the meeting was taking place.

The Likud has said "The chair of Ra'am-Ta'al has explicitly expressed, in a press conference, the aim of negating the existence of Israel by supporting the Hamas terror group."

Similar appeals to remove the Ra'am-Ta'al party from contention in the March 28 general elections, were filed by the National Religious Party, Baruch Marzel and the "Zionist Line" party.

Zarzur has also been quoted as backing a future Islamic state.

AG opposes disqualification Attorney General Meni Mazuz said before the discussion that he opposes the motion to disqualify Ra'am-Ta'al.

Representing Mazuz, Dana Briksman of the State Prosecutor's office for High Court appeals, argued that the motion to disqualify should be rejected because "sufficient evidence has not been presented to remove the party or its candidate from the election."

Zarzur told the committee that the rightist parties' appeals were "all based on a wildly inaccurate report" stemming from a press conference held by Ra'am-Ta'al members in Nazareth two weeks ago.

The appeals were made as a result of a Ynet Website piece which suggested that Zarzur intends to establish an Islamic state in Israel.

"As opposed to what was widely reported by the Israeli media, Mr. Zarzur does not uphold the establishment of an Islamic state or of an alternative government," stated attorney Marwan Dalal in a petition to reject the appeals on behalf of Zarzur.

"The inaccuracy of the ... media sources is not surprising and, sadly, common among journalists in Israel," he said.

Attorney Dalal emphasized that Ra'am-Ta'al strives for equal rights for Arab Israeli citizens, both as individuals and as a group.

In an addendum to his attorney's petition, Zarzur said: "It must be made clear that I was deeply disturbed by the coverage of the press conference. To remove any doubt, I am opposed to the establishment of an Islamic state or an alternative government. Indeed, adopting such a stance in the State of Israel would be naive and borderline foolish."

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