Palestinian parties unite to fight for Israel parliament seats

Palestinian parties unite to fight for Israel parliament seats
Following policies introduced by the Netanyahu government that attack the identity of Palestinian Israelis, Arab parties have formed a united front to challenge the status quo in the Knesset.
2 min read
23 January, 2015
Hanin Zoabi is one of 11 MPs representing Arab parties in the Israeli Knesset [AFP]

Palestinian parties in Israel agreed on Thursday to run on a joint list for upcoming elections for Israel's parliament.

The agreement was announced by the National Consensus Committee (NCC), which oversaw the formation of the new coalition.

Elections are slated for March 17.

In December, the Knesset session was dissolved when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's government collapsed after he fired two senior ministers over their outspoken criticism of his policies - particularly his pushing of a "Jewish nation state" law.

Critics say the proposed bill is an affront to secularism and would further discriminate against the country's Palestinian population.

Joint list

The Palestinian parties that will be running on the joint list include the National Democratic Assembly, also known as Balad, the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality, or Hadash, the Islamic Movement, and the Arab Movement for Change.

     This is our response to the schemes of the right-wing Zionist parties which conspire against our existence.
- NCC statement

A statement issued by the NCC said the group would attempt to break the status quo in the country, and aimed to challenge rulings that discriminate against Israel's Palestinian population.

"The committee's endeavours were motivated by our deep awareness of the great challenges which our people face, ranging from imposed racist laws to Zionist systematic schemes to uproot our people from their homeland," the statement read.

The NCC said the formation of the joint list was a historic achievement for Palestinian parties, and that it will increase the number of Arab participants in the electoral process.

"This is our response to the schemes and plans of the right-wing Zionist parties which conspire against our existence," the NCC statement added.

"We consider this an historic and unprecedented step that satisfies an overwhelming popular desire for unity among the Palestinians [who are residents of Israel], which will be our answer to racism, fascism and attempts to remove Arab representation from the Knesset," Balad MP Basel Ghattas told al-Araby al-Jadeed.

The united front will increase Palestinian representation from 12 to 14 or 15 seats in the 120-seat Knesset, he suggested.

If this target is achieved, Ghattas says it would mean a substantial change to Israel's political landscape.

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.