Israeli court bans far-right party leader from standing in next month's election

The Supreme Court stripped Michael Ben-Ari, who leads the Jewish Power party, of his status as a candidate in the April 9 election



Michael Ben-Ari, the leader of Israel’s far-right Jewish Power (Otzma Yehudit) Party has been banned from standing in the country’s election next month.

The Supreme Court on Sunday reversed a decision by Israel’s central election committee after an appeal by the left-wing Meretz Party.

The participation of Jewish Power has caused widespread consternation across the Jewish world, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu coming under fire for brokering a deal between the party and the National Union in an attempt to shore up the right-wing vote.

Mr Ben-Ari, a former National Union MK, has been accused of saying anyone speaks out against Jews should “not come out alive” - although he has claimed he was referring to Hamas members.

The court approved the participation of Jewish Power’s second-ranked candidate Itamar Ben Gvir as well as the Arab nationalist party Balad.

It is the first time it has used powers to prevent an individual, rather than a party, contesting the election since a change in the law.

Mr Ben-Ari condemned the court as a “judicial junta which seeks to take over our lives”.

Naftali Bennett, who left the Jewish Home Party to set up the New Right, also criticised the judges, saying they had crossed a “red line”.

But Israeli Labour leader Avi Gabbay welcomed the ruling, saying “good riddance” to Mr Ben-Ari.

Jewish Power’s involvement has led to arguments within the Board of Deputies with one group calling on the organisation’s leaders to condemn it but another telling the Board to remain neutral during Israeli elections.

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