Election Committee Bars Lieberman's Party From Distributing Charlie Hebdo

Central Election Committee says Yisrael Beiteinu cannot follow through with plan to pass out copies of French satirical magazine because 'it's offensive to Muslims.'

Ilan Assayag

Israel's Central Elections Committee (CEC) forbade Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party from distributing free copies of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, Channel 2 television reported Wednesday.

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."

Further, Israel's election law forbids parties from distributing gifts.

Hundreds of copies of the Charlie Hebdo edition have arrived at Israel 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 Arab Israelis.

Lieberman said at the time: "We will not allow radical Islam to terrorize Israel and harm freedom of expression."