Marwan Barghouti may run for Palestinian presidency from jail

Marwan Barghouti may run for Palestinian presidency from jail
Israeli Knesset member Jamal Zahalka warns that the "Israeli left is more dangerous than the right" and hints that Marwan Barghouti is considering running for the Palestinian presidency.
2 min read
09 December, 2014
Zahalka is one of three Balad members in the Israeli Knesset [Getty]
Jamal Zahalka, a Palestinian member of the Israeli Knesset, revealed that Marwan Barghouti - an imprisoned senior leader of the Fatah party - is "thinking about nominating himself for the Palestinian presidency", if elections were to take place.

In an interview with al-Araby al-Jadeed, Zahalka also condemned recent "racist" Israeli laws saying that there was no difference between "Jewish fundamentalism and secular fundamentalism" when it comes to contemprary Israeli politics. 

Zahalka described Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails, whom he recently visited, as "steadfast" and "engaged in developing future Palestinian generations".

Bargouthi, a popular Palestinian political leader, was arrested in 2002 and is currently serving five life sentences for alleged attacks on Israelis.

In a public letter to mark 10 years since the death of Yasser Arafat, Barguouti issued a statement from his prison cell calling on Palestinians to launch a large-scale popular uprising. In a clear criticism of the Palestinian Authority he urged President Mahmoud Abbas "to put an immediate end to security cooperation [with Israel], which is only strengthening the occupier".

Zahalka's Balad party - the Hebrew acronym for the National Democratic Assembly Party - has been subject to Israeli state persecution since its formation in 1995. Its founder, Azmi Bishara, was forced into exile after facing allegations of supporting anti-Israel groups.

The latest persecuted party member is MK Haneen Zoabi, who refused to call those who kidnapped the three settlers in the West Bank June 2014 "terrorists". Zahalka said that the Israeli Knesset had turned into a "court of law", voting to remove Zoabi "because of her political views". 

Israel has long discriminated against Palestinian citizens politically, economically and legislatively. However, Zahalka said the most dangerous laws facing Palestinian citizens in Israel today are "related to land and resistance".

During the last Israeli Knesset session, a large number of discriminatory laws were put forward including the "governance legislation" - an amendment to Israel's Basic Laws- which make it more difficult for smaller parties to enter into the Knesset, which disproportionately affects Arab parties, and the "Jewish-state" bill that would constitutionally define Israel as a Jewish nation state.

The MK jokingly said that he promised his friends "a big party" if a week passes by without a racist law being issued.

In the current context of electoral politics, Zahalka, one of only 11 Palestinian members in the 120-seat Israeli Knesset, warned against deception, stating the "Israeli left is more dangerous than the right," and that successive labour governments had committed massacres against the Palestinian people "from the massacre of Kafr Qasim to the Land Day massacre and beyond".