Israel's top court overturns ban on Palestinian party's participation in November elections

Israel's top court overturns ban on Palestinian party's participation in November elections
All nine judges in Israel's Supreme Court voted to overturn a ban on Balad, a major party representing Palestinian citizens in Israel, from running in the November Knesset elections.
2 min read
09 October, 2022
Palestinian party Balad is led by Sami Abu Shehadeh [Getty]

The Israeli Supreme Court on Sunday overturned a ban that prohibited the Palestinian National Democratic Assembly (Balad) from running in the Israeli elections in November, according to human rights group Adalah.

The top court voted unanimously to reverse a decision by Israel’s Central Elections Committee (CEC) on 29 September which disqualified Balad from the Knesset race following a request from a right-wing Israeli party. 

Adalah, acting on behalf of the Palestinian party, petitioned to have the CEC decision thrown out in early October, saying the ban overlooked previous court rulings which rejected requests to exclude Balad from political participation.

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Adalah's general director Hassan Jabareen said the CEC’s ruling was part of the same "baseless attempts to ban Arab lists and candidates that the Israeli right-wing submits every single election cycle". 

Jabareen said the purpose of such bans was to push Palestinians out of "legitimate political discourse".

"It must be made unequivocally clear that parliamentary action promoting a vision of democracy and equality cannot be grounds for denying the right to participate in the political process," he added.

Balad has so far won every appeal in the Supreme Court to have disqualification orders overturned. 

All nine judges voted against the latest ban, with some offering harsh criticism over the CEC verdict.

"There is a shallow request here without evidence. The issue of disqualifying a party is too serious," the Times of Israel reported Judge Anat Baron as saying.

The banning motion was brought forward by an Israeli party called 'We Are Together A New Social Order' and was supported by Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz’s National Unity Party. 

The CEC decision came after Balad split from the Joint List coalition of Palestinian parties in Israel and decided to run independently. It is not expected to secure the 3.25 percent threshold required to enter the next Knesset. 

On 1 November, Israel will hold its fifth election in three years after parliament was dissolved last June. 

Palestinian citizens of Israel make up about 20 percent of the state’s population.