Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
Balad MKs Ghates Basel (in jail) Hanin Zoabi (ousted), and Jamal Zahalka (resigned).

After the resignation of MKs Jamal Zahalka and the ousting of Hanin Zoabi, and the conviction of MK Bassel Ghattas of assisting security prisoners, the leadership of Balad, the National Democratic Assembly, is determined to bring new names to the political arena, Haaretz reported on Monday.

“We need to inject new blood and transfer the reins to the next generation,” a key party activist told Haaretz. He said he expected that the very fact that all options are open now in terms of new contenders would bring about a positive change.

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Balad is member of the Joint Arab List, a coalition of four parties which have little in common other than being Arab and being destined to be relegated to the opposition benches for the foreseeable future. Its three MKs have been the most vociferous and cantankerous among the 13-member Knesset faction.

Change may come as a result of the fact that a quarter of the Balad Knesset list is reserved for women, in the party’s February 2 primaries, and the party leadership is hoping to include a Jewish candidate among the top 10 on the list. Dov Henin, a Communist MK, was the list’s token Jew until his resignation last week.

Balad’s stated purpose is the “struggle to transform the state of Israel into a democracy for all its citizens, irrespective of national or ethnic identity.” It opposes the idea of Israel as a Jewish state.

MKs Zahalka and Zouabi took over the leadership of Balad following a difficult internal shake-up, when party founder Dr. Azmi Bishara fled Israel in 2007 after being suspected of security offenses. Balad managed to survive, and passed both the vote threshold, and repeated Knesset committee rulings to disqualify it—which were rejected by the High Court.

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