Israel's Supreme Court Sunday disqualified an extreme right-wing politician from next month's parliamentary election for inciting violence and racism against Arabs.
The Israeli election committee had given permission for Michael Ben-Ari of the Jewish Power party to run. But the court Sunday backed a legal challenge by the opposition leftist Meretz party, which argued that Ben-Ari called for violence against Arabs, denying them civil rights, and incited racism.
"The place for people who believe in the superiority of race is behind bars, not in parliament," a Meretz spokesman said.
Ben-Ari condemned the court decision, saying "a judicial junta is trying to impose its laws ... it's not democracy.
The court ruled, however, that another Jewish Power candidate can run. It also overturned an election commission decision to bar candidates from two Arab parties – Hadash-Taal and Raam-Balad.
The commission accused the two parties of calling for violence against the government.
Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked blasted the court's ruling Sunday, saying it forbids Ben-Ari from running "while declaring terror-backing parties kosher is a crass and misguided interference in the heart of Israeli democracy."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is fighting for his political life after police said last month he should be indicted for corruption. Netanyahu has aligned his Likud party with other right-wing parties, including Jewish Power, to form a single slate in next month's parliamentary election.
Many in Israel, left and right, are disturbed by the alliance. A number of Jewish Power members are followers of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, a far-right extremist who called for ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.
Israel, the United States and the European Union declared Kahane a terrorist before he was assassinated in New York in 1990.