Anti-Zionist Arab party barred from running in upcoming Israeli election

It appears likely that the Supreme Court will overturn the decision made by the Central Elections Committee.

By Adina Katz, World Israel News

The Central Elections Committee voted 9-5 on Thursday to block the anti-Zionist Arab Balad party from running in the upcoming November national elections.

It was not only right-wing parties that voted against the run. Before the vote, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, head of the National Unity party, released a statement saying that his party’s representatives would oppose Balad.

“The Arab citizens of Israel deserve and are entitled to parliamentary representation, and even to coalition representation, but there are decisions that are above all narrow political considerations. There is no place in the Israeli Knesset for someone who operates in extremes against the state,” Gantz said.

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party boycotted the vote. “Today, the circus continues to try to disqualify Balad in order to kosher [Arab parties] Ra’am, Hadash and Ta’al,” Likud stated. “We will not participate in this show.”

Left-wing Meretz party MK Gaby Lasky noted that “many of the parties that aren’t here [to vote] are ones that petitioned to dismiss Balad in the past or voted in favor.

According to Lasky, “now they have a different political interest… to enable Balad to run in order to lose votes in the Arab sector, and in this way to get to the 61st seat.” Balad is not expected to meet the electoral threshold, and therefore, any votes for the party would be wasted rather than strengthening the Arab bloc.

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Notably, the Islamist Ra’am party was not barred.

It is likely that Balad will appeal the decision at the Supreme Court and succeed it having it overturned. Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara is opposed to disqualifying the party.

“Today’s discussion in the election committee has no meaning because the Supreme Court will in any case legalize the running of the Arab parties that support terrorism,” the Religious Zionism party said in a statement.

“The Supreme Court has become a political player which did and is doing everything to harm the right and continue the rule of the left and the Arabs. We will bring real change after the elections. We will outlaw the Arab parties that support terrorism, and we will put an end to the rule of the Supreme Court.”

Ahead of the hearing, the Ad Kan organization, which exposes the activities of anti-Israel NGOs and the Islamist Movement, fought to have the Ra’am party disqualified.

“There is no place in the Knesset for representatives of a movement that operates in an institutionalized manner to aid declared terrorist elements and for the benefit of elements in enemy countries in violation of the law. The Islamic movement should be disqualified from running for the 25th Knesset,” the organization stated.

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“Just yesterday, the chairman of the Islamic Movement published a notice of mourning for the death of Yusef al-Qaradawi, who was the religious authority that allowed Hamas to carry out suicide attacks and allowed the murder of every Jewish-Israeli within the framework of the Palestinian struggle. The Islamic Movement is a sister movement of Hamas, as defined by former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. And the party has no place in the Knesset,” the statement read.

According to Ad Kan, “the Islamic Movement owns a wide variety of non-profit organizations, public benefit companies, and commercial companies, some of which were established after Ra’am entered the coalition, to absorb the budgets promised to the Arab sector in the coalition negotiations. The movement collects charity from its Muslim supporters in Israel amounting to tens of millions of shekels per year and transfers them to its various institutions to allegedly forbidden destinations.”