Israel court bars extreme-right election candidate Ben-Ari


Jerusalem (AFP)

Israel's supreme court on Sunday disqualified the controversial leader of the extreme-right Jewish Power party, Michael Ben-Ari, from running in next month's elections.

Ben-Ari has come under fire for comments he made about Israeli Arabs, which Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit said earlier this month amount to "incitement to racism".

The elections committee had approved Ben-Ari to run in the April polls, but the opposition left-wing Meretz party successfully appealed the decision to the supreme court.

The attorney general previously accused Ben-Ari of "inciting on an ethnic-nationalistic basis against the Arab population" and "calling for a violent renunciation of the Arab population's rights."

According to Jewish Power, his disqualification marks the first time a candidate approved by the committee has been banned from standing in elections.

Jewish Power are followers of late racist rabbi Meir Kahane, whose Kach movement was labelled a terrorist organisation by Israel, the United States and the European Union.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is seen as leading the most right-wing government in Israel's history, brokered a deal to see Jewish Power join with two far-right parties to create a single electoral list.

The supreme court on Sunday approved Jewish Power's second candidate, Itamar Ben-Gvir, to stand in polls.

It also backed a candidate from the extreme-left Hadash party, Ofer Kassif, and approved the two main Arab alliances -- Hadash-Taal and Raam-Balad.

The latter had initially be barred by the elections committee over its alleged support for violent resistance.