Panel: Ron Kobi Can Call His Party ‘Secular Right’

Mayor Ron Kobi. (Flash90)

Despite the objections of MK Avigdor Liberman, Teveria Mayor Ron Kobi can name the party he has formed “the Secular Right Party,” the Central Elections Committee ruled Thursday, Yediot Acharonot reported. Differing with Liberman, the Committee said that the terms “secular” and “right” were general terms that anyone could use, and were not necessarily identified with Yisrael Beytenu.

Kobi had announced last month that he planned to enter politics, and would run for the Knesset in the upcoming September elections. That has raised the ire of Liberman, whose “niche” in the current campaign has been what he terms the “secular right,” rightwing Israelis who do not want chareidi or religious influence on government policy. Liberman has attacked Kobi numerous times, calling him “a plot by Netanyahu” to diffuse the secular right vote and ensure that his Yisrael Beytenu party misses the electoral threshold.

In June, Kobi registered his party with the name Secular Right, but last week Yisrael Beytenu filed a petition against the name. Claiming that it was “a phony party set up specifically to steal votes from us,” the petition said that it also violated the “copyright” Yisrael Beytenu had developed in the current election campaign as the secular right alternative.

In a detailed response, the Committee’s Party Registry panel rejected the petition. “The terms ‘right’ and ‘secular’ are generic, even if they appear in Yisrael Beytenu’s campaign,” the panel said. “They are known and recognized by everyone and cannot be ‘copyrighted.’”

Kobi praised the decision, saying that the filing of the petition “shows that Liberman is very afraid of me and the Secular Right.”

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