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Knesset Members Jamal Zahalka (L) and Ahmad Tibi Photo: Dudi Vaaknin
Knesset Members Jamal Zahalka (L) and Ahmad Tibi Photo: Dudi Vaaknin
 
 

Arab parties appeal disqualification

Balad, United Arab List-Ta'al representatives claim there is no evidence justifying Central Election Committee's decision to ban parties from running in upcoming Knesset elections. 'How can Yisrael Beiteinu and National Union which call to deprive minority's rights sit in Knesset while parties supporting full equality are left out?' they ask

Aviad Glickman
Published: 01.19.09, 10:26 / Israel News

Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, filed a 500-page appeal with the Supreme Court on Monday, on behalf of the Balad and United Arab List-Ta'al parties, against the Central Elections Committee's decision to ban the two Arab parties from running in the upcoming Knesset elections.

 

By law, the court must discuss the appeal in an extended panel of at least nine judges.

 

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The appeal, filed by Attorney Hassan Jabrin and Orna Cohen, claims that the Elections Committee's decision to disqualify the two parties "violated the rules of natural justice and ignored the opinion of the attorney general, which stated that there is no evidence justifying preventing the two lists from taking part in the Knesset elections."

 

The appellants claimed that the representatives who submitted the qualification requests to the committee created "a radical atmosphere, based on discrimination between 'us and them'."

 

This atmosphere, they said, prevented a matter of fact discussion, and even created a situation in which the representatives of the two parties and the other Arab citizens who are members of the Elections Committee left the room and refused to take part in the vote.

 

"Most of the committee members' considerations were so irrelevant that some of them noted explicitly that they would vote in favor of the disqualification although they were aware of the fact that there was no evidence supporting it," the appellants said.

 

'Demand for loyalty to Zionism unreasonable'

The appeal went on to claim that many of the committee members referred to the participation of the Arab parties "as a favor or privilege given to them, rather than as a constitutional basic right."

 

According to the appellants, the committee members focused the discussion on their "extremely unreasonable" demand that the lists' representatives must show loyalty to Zionism.

 

The appeal also said that many of the committee members who voted in favor of the disqualification "are usually rational and to-the-point people, but at the time of the decision they were overcome by irrelevant consideration originating in election considerations and a state of war."

 

The appellants said that the decision's outcome was unreasonable, as "while those who demanded the disqualification, Knesset Member (Avigdor) Lieberman and the Yisrael Beiteinu and National Union lists, whose platform calls for the deprivation of basic rights from the Arab minority in Israel, will be represented in the parliament, while those supporting full civil and national equality find themselves kept out of the parliament."

 

'They can't detach themselves from Bishara'

MK Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List-Ta'al) slammed the Elections Committee's decision on Monday and expressed his full support for former MK Azmi Bishara, the founder of Balad, who fled to Syria two years ago.

 

"The claim made by (Labor MK) Eitan Cabel that he disqualified Balad because they are in touch with Bishara is detached from reality," said Tibi. "Of course they're in touch with him. He is the movement's founder and it's inhuman to demand that they disconnect from him.

 

"The affair against Bishara has been distorted and blown out of proportions in order to degrade him and his party and the rest of the Arab parties. When the Right attacks Bishara unjustly, my moral duty is to protect him, especially when they are trying to hurt us as well through this overblown affair."

 

Balad Chairman Jamal Zahalka said that the High Court "will have to decide whether Lieberman and his people are the ones deciding on the boundaries of the democratic dialogue in the state of Israel.

 

"The Supreme Court will decide whether to disqualify a list due to its platform calling for complete equality in a democratic state for all citizens, whether equality for the Arab public is a legitimate demand or an illegal one, whether the demand for democracy is illegal, and whether it will also let Lieberman the fascist determine the boundaries of the legitimate democratic dialogue."

 

Sharon Roffe-Ofir contributed to this report

 

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