Ra’am-Balad members. (Hillel Maeir/TPS)

The Central Elections Committee on Wednesday night accepted the petition submitted against the Arab Ra’am-Balad political party and barred it from running in the elections.

By: Aryeh Savir, TPS

The Arab Ra’am-Balad political party and its only Jewish member, Dr. Ofer Kassif,  were banned from running Israel’s 2019 elections.

Ra’am-Balad was disqualified in a 17 to 10 vote, and Kasif’s candidacy was disqualified in a 15 to 10 vote.

Ra’am-Balad and Kassif were charged with negating Israel’s Jewish nature, a cause for their ineligibility to run for the Knesset.

Several of Ra’am-Balad’s members have acted against Israel, while Kassif has equated the Jewish state with the Third Reich.

The Arab party stated that the decision to ban their party was part of the “delegitimization of the Arab public and its political representatives.”

“We will continue to struggle together against the attempts of the right to remove us from the boundaries of legitimacy,” the party vowed.

Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Liberman, whose party submitted the petition to disqualify Kassif, stated that “whoever says that the IDF chief of staff is a war criminal and that the State of Israel is carrying out ethnic cleansing in the Gaza Strip must not be allowed to sit in the Knesset. He should sit with the other supporters of terrorism in the Hamas parliament in the Gaza Strip or in the Iranian Majlis in Tehran.”

He added that he expects the High Court of Justice not to intervene in the Central Elections Committee’s decision.

In the past 20 years, the Central Elections Committee repeatedly voted to ban Arab parties, but their decision was canceled by the High Court of Justice. A similar occurrence is expected to take place this time as well.

Earlier in the day, the Central Elections Committee voted against the disqualification of Dr. Michael Ben Ari and Itamar Ben Gvir of the right-wing Jewish Power party.