Police to Block Marzel From Umm al-Fahm for Poll

Senior police officials said they would prevent exterme-right wing activist Baruch Marzel from entering the Arab city of Umm al-Fahm on election day.

Police said they do so although the chairman of the Central Election Committee, Justice Eliezer Rivlin, rejected a request Friday by Attorney General Menachem Mazuz to exclude Marzel from serving at the polling station staff in the town. Rivlin, who is vice president of the High Court of Justice, also told Mazuz it was his job to remind the authorities of their responsibility to maintain order, keep the peace and ensure smooth elections.

A letter in Mazuz's name, written to Rivlin by assistant district attorney Gilad Shickman, stated that the police and the Shin Bet security service predict a "near certain" disturbance of public order and the proper election process if Marzel is allowed to serve on the committee overseeing the elections in this major Arab town in the Wadi Ara region.

The Central Election Committee announced at the beginning of the month that Marzel would be serving as head of the committee in Umm al-Fahm.

Mazuz said in his letter to Rivlin that while legal, Marzel's appointment constituted a misuse of his faction's freedom to choose its representatives to the committee and was "provocative."

Police Commissioner David Cohen had written Mazuz that Marzel's appointment would require police intervention in large numbers, might endanger life and property and the ensuing violence could spread.

However, Rivlin countered that Mazuz's statement that hundreds of police would be required to keep order if Marzel took up the post was "apocalyptic."

Rivlin wrote Mazuz: "I would expect that you would remind the police and the Shin Bet of their responsibility. This or that petition does not annul the obligation or responsibility of the enforcement authorities."