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 Monday, 30 December, 2002, 23:07 GMT
Arab radical banned from Israel poll
Baruch Marzel
Right-winger Baruch Marzel has been cleared to stand
A prominent Israeli Arab candidate has been banned from standing in next month's general election over allegations that he supports Palestinian attacks on Israel.

Israel's election committee voted 21-18 to disqualify Ahmed Tibi, who is third on the list of the Arab-Jewish Hadash party, but stopped short of a ban on the entire party.

This is the mark of Cain on the forehead of the Central Elections Committee and the political system

Ahmed Tibi
The committee will decide on Tuesday whether to ban another Arab candidate, Azmi Bishara, who is currently a member of the Knesset.

On Sunday it approved the candidacy of the Jewish nationalist politician, Baruch Marzel, from the right-wing Herut party by a similar margin.

Mr Marzel is a former leader of the banned Kach group which has called for the expulsion of all Arabs from the West Bank and Gaza.

The decisions on Mr Tibi and Mr Marzel both go against recommendations by senior officials.

Appeal

The committee, which is made up of members of the Knesset, voted along party lines with Likud and religious members supporting a ban on Mr Tibi and Labor, Meretz and Arab parties opposing.

I only hate those who hate us

Baruch Marzel
"This is the mark of Cain on the forehead of the Central Elections Committee and the political system, which approves such an anti-democratic racist reptile and wants to disqualify an authentic representative of the Arab public," Mr Tibi said in reaction to the decision.

He said he intended to appeal against the ruling in the Supreme Court.

Mr Tibi provoked outrage among many Israelis when he described Palestinian resistance to army operations in the refugee camp in the West Bank town of Jenin in April as "an act of noble heroism".

'Endorsement of bombers'

Israel's Attorney General Eliakim Rubinstein has been involved in the arguments concerning all three men.

He requested the election committee bar the former Kach leader, a decision backed by its head Michael Heshin.

The Kach organisation was banned after 29 Palestinians were killed in 1994 at a mosque in Hebron by one of its members.

Mr Rubinstein has also backed a ban on Mr Bishara although he opposed the exclusion of Mr Tibi.

He told the Knesset that Mr Bishara's support for "resistance" amounted to endorsement of the suicide bombers.

Mr Rubinstein has also questioned the alleged calls by Mr Bishara for greater involvement by Arab states.

Mr Bishara reportedly denied the accusations saying he has "always opposed the suicide bombs" and believed "a united Arab stand... will prevent war".

Under a new law the Knesset can expel a politician for denying Israel's existence as a Jewish or democratic state or for support of terrorism and armed resistance.

Mr Bishara has also been charged with arranging visits for Israeli Palestinians - said to be visiting refugee relatives - to Syria, which is still officially at war with Israel.

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  Ahmed Tibi, Arab-Israeli Knesset member
'It was a black day for Israeli democracy'

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28 Nov 02 | Middle East
28 Nov 02 | Middle East
27 Mar 02 | Middle East
27 Feb 02 | Middle East
20 May 99 | Israel elections
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