Israel's Election Panel Chief Warns Against Fake News in Days Following the Vote

Jonathan Lis
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Election committee members prepare for Election Day, last month.
Election committee members prepare for Election Day, last month. Credit: Hadas Parush
Jonathan Lis

Orly Ades, director general of the Central Elections Committee, decried attempts to delegitimize the committee and the election results, which she said is now a years-old phenomenon.

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In an interview with 103 FM Radio, she said that she was disgusted by an article in the Calcalist financial daily "About the campaign being waged against the committee, something very organized – you can see that they invested a lot of thought in it."

When asked if this was the work of the Likud party or the right-wing bloc to prepare their refusal of the election results if they do not work in their favor, Ades replied that she would not comment. "The public is wise enough to understand," she said. "I can only say that the public also needs to be wise enough to know not to share these statements, in the coming days at least," while the election results are up in the air. "It can certainly constitute a fertile ground for disseminating information that is very disconnected from reality."

She said that this phenomenon began ahead of the September 2019 do-over election, and started up again before the March 2020 election in order to delegitimize the results. At this point it's not so much the election results being called into question, she said, "but those who have roles on the committee and the committee itself."

When asked if she sees any similarities to those in the United States who refused to accept that Donald Trump lost the election, Ades said, "I want to believe we're different. I really want to believe we have better things to learn from the United States."

She said that she has not personally been threatened, and that she does not have her own security detail. "I really hope it happen here," she said. "It kind of nauseates me on a personal level that I'm having this conversation now – all in all, I'm a civil servant doing my job with love."

The Labor Party requested on Sunday that Ades prevent attempts by the right-wing Im Tirtzu group to collect data on the identities of poll workers and election transparency observers acting on the organization's behalf. Im Tirtzu sent out text messages in past days to its activists, asking them to declare whether they were approved to work at polling stations in these positions, which are supposed to be apolitical.

Labor's Legal counsel, attorney Omri Segev, wrote in the letter to Ades expressing fear that this process will allow Im Tirtzu, which is identified with Likud, to cause disturbances during Election Day while collecting data from the ballot boxes in real time.

Im Tirzu denied Labor’s “shameful” claims, insisting the group is working to maintain the integrity of the vote. The Central Elections Committee said that the make-up of the team of observers at each polling station ensures that no individual official can influence the count.

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