The Israeli Central Elections Committee yesterday approved a motion to ban the National Democratic Assembly (Balad) from running in the upcoming Knesset elections.
The committee voted with nine ballots being placed to ban the party and five against the motion. The committee accuses Balad, led by MK Sami Abu Shehadeh, is "undermining Israel as a Jewish and democratic state" and "incitement to racism".
"The attempt this time to disqualify Balad is an attempt by [Israeli Defence Minister] Gantz and [Interim Prime Minister] Lapid to engineer an Arab leadership according to their political needs," Abu Shehadeh said in a statement, adding that this will fail.
"We in Tajammu' [Balad] are proud of supporting full equality and being against the [Israeli] occupation, and the one who should be ashamed is the one who supports the occupation and rejects equality," he continued.
He stressed that disqualifying the party is a "political decision" issued by a "political committee", which reflects the "correctness of the Assembly's [Balad's] rhetoric and political project".
Balad said the decision to disqualify it was politically motivated aimed to divide the Arab parties into "extremists and moderates", adding that Palestinian citizens of Israel will not abandon their national voice.
The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, Adalah, which represented Balad before the committee explained that this is not the first time that such a claim has been levelled at Balad, adding that the Supreme Court always quashes the decision.
Adalah added that it will appeal the committee's decision before the Supreme Court.
"The National Democratic Assembly is a political party and has the right to represent, elect and work for its voters," said Adalah Attorney Adi Mansour.
READ: Abu Shehadeh: 'Arab parties conspire against Balad to appease Lapid'