The recent arrests of Balad party officials are the latest example of how Israel is using legislation and policy to quash Arab-Israeli political popularity
First published in The New Arab on 22 September 2016:
As 20 officials of the Balad party were arrested on charges of fraud, Secretary General Matanis Shahadeh of the targeted group said that the move was clearly “part of a political persecution campaign by Israeli authorities”, in an attempt to clampdown on the political activities of Arab-Israelis.
Far from a one-off charge, Balad has grown used to accusations against it, and the Israeli government has tried hard to ban the party. Of those making up the Joint List, Balad is perhaps one of the most disliked by Netanyahu’s government. Pro-Palestinian politics in Israel may be in the minority but have been gaining momentum, as seen during the last election in 2015.
Now, 17.5 percent of the country’s eight million population is represented by the Joint List. It holds 13 of the 120 seats in parliament, three of which are occupied by Balad representatives, and together they represent the third largest bloc in the legislature.