Arab MPs protest offensive, Israel bans them from elections

Israel's parliament banned Arab political parties from running in general elections after Arab parties condemned Israel's devastating offensive in Gaza.

Arab MPs protest offensive, Israel bans them from elections

Israel's parliament yesterday banned Arab political parties from running in general elections on February 10 after Arab parties condemned Israel's devastating offensive in Gaza.

The decision was proposed by two hardline, rightwing parties and approved by the Israeli parliament's 37-member Central Election Committee, composed of representatives of all leading parties. It comes after days of protest by Arabs - who make up 20% of the Israeli population - against the devastating military offensive in Gaza but is the culmination of years of discrimination within Israel against its Arab citizens.

Israel launched on December 27 a military offencive in Gaza, killing more than 900 Palestinians, a third of them were children.

"As a humane person, I oppose targeting civilians wherever they are. Naturally, however, every time an Arab is injured it hurts me more because we are members of the same nation," Ahmed Tibi, of UAL-Ta'al, told the Knesset.

Tibi had spoken out publicly against Israel's invasion of Gaza, describing it as "genocide". "You're murdering children," he added.

A Central Election Committee panel voted on Monday to back the motion filed by two right-wing parties, which also accused the National Democratic Assembly (also known as Balad) and Ra'am-Ta'al of incitement and supporting "terrorist" groups.

Arab lawmakers Tibi and Jamal Zahalka, political rivals who head the two Arab blocs in parliament, joined together in condemning Monday's decision.

Tibi said of yesterday's decision: "It was a political trial led by a group of fascists and racists who are willing to see the Knesset without Arabs and want to see the country without Arabs."

"If the members of the panel had weapons, they would have shot us in the head," Tibi said.

In 2007, the party leader Azmi Bishara, was forced to leave the country after a mounting campaign against him and accusations that he had given information to Hezbollah during Israel's war in Lebanon in 2006. The allegations were never proven and no charge was ever made.

Agencies & Newspapers
Last Mod: 13 Ocak 2009, 17:09
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