Former MK Chikli Barred from Election; Yesh Atid Seeks Sanctions Against Pro-Likud Network

By Shmuel Smith

Former Yamina MK Amichai Chikli. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

YERUSHALAYIM – The renegade former Yamina MK Amichai Chikli was disqualified from running for Knesset on November 1, by a ruling of the Central Elections Committee on Wednesday.

Chikli lost out on a technicality, having failed to resign from Yamina “close to” the date that he abandoned the party, in violation of the terms of a deal he made in a court proceeding in July.

He wanted to run with Likud, which said it will appeal the ruling to the High Court. Prospects there are thought to be good, as the court has a record of usually overturning such decisions.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party filed a petition with the CEC to have the right-wing Channel 14 categorized as a political platform for Likud, as its coverage has tended to favor opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu’s party.

“This is a real threat to the basic principles of the election in Israel,” the petition read. “A media outlet is fully harnessed in favor of a candidate and a party, without balances and contrary to every standard of reasonableness, fairness, and common sense,” it said.

If the committee accepts the allegation, it could require Channel 14 to notify its viewers that they are receiving “propaganda messages” on behalf of the Likud, or even force it to close down operations.

In addition to the pro-Likud reporting, the petitioners charged that the network’s anchors and analysts were in collusion with the party, afterward going to work for the Likud or running as Likud candidates. They cited explicit calls by its reporters to vote for Likud versus Yesh Atid, as well.

Channel 14 said in response: “In the last month, a message was conveyed from a senior official to the channel’s management that if there is no change in the broadcast schedule, including reducing the appearances of various presenters and commentators, legal proceedings will be taken that will lead to the closing of the channel.

“Yesh Atid knows fully well that declaring Channel 14 as a political entity will result in its license being revoked and the channel being closed even before the elections. A day when a transitional prime minister uses a High Court judge to shut down a media outlet that criticizes him is a black day for Israeli democracy. We invite Prime Minister Lapid to stop his boycott and come for an interview on the channel, instead of trying to shut it down.”

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