MK Azmi Bishara
Photo: AFP
Photo: Ofer Amram
MK Jamal Zahalka
Photo: Ofer Amram

Balad demands removal of gag order

Following rumors about circumstances leading to party head MK Azmi Bishara's disappearance, members plan serious PR campaign, threaten to turn to High Court for right to defend Balad

Harmed by rumors surrounding the disappearance of Balad Chairman Azmi Bishara, faction chairman MK Jamal Zahalka said the party would turn to the High Court of Justice if the gag order on the affair was not lifted.


"We find ourselves at a dead end since we cannot talk…We have nothing to hide, on the contrary, we have someone to blame. If the court does not order the gag order to be removed on Sunday, we will go to the High Court of Justice," Zahalka told Ynet on Thursday.


"We will go all the way to the High Court to realize our right to respond to the fabricated accusations against us, and refute the malicious rumors that are being published through the media," added Zahalka.


"Bishara is being persecuted because of his political and ideological views, and because of his national and democratic opinions. Former minister Shulamit Aloni has already told the media recently that she thought Shin Bet would try to set him up and this is what we think has happened. We wish to remove the uncertainty, we have a lot to say, if we were only allowed," he said.


When asked if Bishara plans to return to Israel next week, Zahalka said he does not know of such plans. "His return could be sooner, or later. As of yet there is no date."


Either way, Balad is serious about the PR attack it plans to launch once the gag order is removed.


Joining forces

On Thursday the party heads met with their Hadash party colleagues to discuss strategy. Present at the meeting were Zahalka himself, MK Wasil Taha (Balad) the party's secretary-general Awad Abdel Fattah and Hanan Zoabi.


Hadash was represented by its chairman Mohammad Barakeh, MK Dov Khenin, former MK Issam Makhoul and Ayman Odeh.


Zahalka said that this meeting was part of a series of meetings with all Israeli-Arab political figures.


"We met with the northern and southern branches of the Islamic Movement, the Arab Democratic Party and all the rest… In meetings with Hadash, it was agreed that we are facing a difficult period and we must join forces to prevent a blow to the right to political activity among the Arab public. We will plan techniques, either under the frame of a monitoring committee, or under another frame," said Zahalka.


After the meeting, Hadash Chairman Muhammad Barakeh attempted to get a message across to the general public in Israel, telling Ynet that "there is cynical use of what is called legal restrictions or a gag order in order to slander the whole Arab population."


"The fact that we sit in Knesset means that we accept the rules applying to the State of Israel and every attempt to push the Arab public or its elected out of legitimacy is a racist, fascist attempt," he added.


"We cannot comment on MK Bishara's affair but we can say that since October 2000, 30 investigations against Arab MKs have been opened," ended Barakeh.


פרסום ראשון: 04.12.07, 20:52
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