Arab Balad party disqualified from running in upcoming elections

Central Election Commission disqualifies Balad party with a vote of 9-5, as the Arab party expected to appeal to Supreme Court; chairman says no grounds for disqualification; right-wing and religious bloc members absent from vote

Sivan Hilaie, Moran Azulay|
The Central Election Commission (CEC) on Thursday ruled to disqualify the Arab Balad party from running in the upcoming Knesset vote with a 9-5 vote.
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  • The petition presented by a non-parliamentarian group argued that the party should be blocked from participating in the elections. "Balad does not accept the the state of Israel as a Jewish state and undermines its Jewish heritage," the petition said.
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    הגשת רשימות סופיות לבחירות
    הגשת רשימות סופיות לבחירות
    Balad chairman Sami Abu Shehadeh
    (Photo: Yoav Dudkevtich)
    "The Supreme Court has already deliberated these arguments in the past and determined that there were no grounds for disqualification," Balad chairman Sami Abu Shehadeh said.
    "This is a political discussion. I cannot understand how Jews who have been fighting for equality in Europe and the United States in the 19th century, are so concerned with the idea of equality. Balad supports a country with equality among all of its citizens - Jews and Arabs," he said.
    The party is expected to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court claiming there is no ground for the ruling.
    All committee members representing the right-wing and religious bloc led by Benjamin Netanyahu, were absent from the proceedings, despite their ideological objection to the Balad party.
    Members of Netanyahu's Likud party said they preferred to see Arab votes for the party, lost after Balad was seen to have little chance of winning the required seats to pass the Knesset threshold.
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    הגשת רשימות סופיות לבחירות
    הגשת רשימות סופיות לבחירות
    Ra'am leader Mansour Abbas
    (Photo: Rafi Kotz)
    Defense Minister Benny Gantz's National Unity Party did support the committee's decision.
    "Balad stands against the Jewish and democratic nature of the State of Israel, and therefore does not belong in the Knesset," Gantz said. "There is no place in the Israeli parliament for members who take extreme positions against Israel," he said.
    The predominately Arab Joint List alliance, which Balad has split from earlier this month, slammed the committee's decision claiming it was racist.
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