Israel’s top court unanimously overturns ban on Arab party from running in country’s impending national elections

Israeli Supreme Court accepts Adalah's appeal against Israel's Central Elections Committee ban on National Democratic Assembly (Balad/Tajammu’) from running in 1 November election; justices vote unanimously 9-0 to overturn ban.

UPDATED: 9 October 2022, 11:45


The Israeli Supreme Court ruled this morning, Sunday, 9 October 2022, to overturn a ban on the Arab political party National Democratic Assembly (Balad/Tajammu’) from the Israeli national parliamentary elections slated for 1 November 2022. The decision was made by a unanimous vote of 9 – 0.


The Israeli Supreme Court has historically overturned decisions by Israel’s Central Elections Committee (CEC) to disqualify Arab parties from running in the country’s national elections.


On 29 September, the CEC had voted nine to five to disqualify the party – commonly referred to as Balad or Tajammu’, and led by MK Dr. Sami Abu Shehadeh – from participating in elections for the 25th Knesset. Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel appealed this decision on behalf of Balad to the Israeli Supreme Court on 4 October 2022.


Adalah General Director Dr. Hassan Jabareen, who represented Balad in its fight against the election ban, responded to the Israeli Supreme Court ruling:


“The Israeli Supreme Court’s rejection of the attempt to ban Balad was made in light of the laconic request from a right-wing Israeli party that ignored all the court’s previous rulings on this very same question. This latest attempt to ban an Arab party joins all the similarly baseless attempts to ban Arab lists and candidates that the Israeli right wing submits every single election cycle. The sole purpose of these moves is to incite against Arab political representatives and push them beyond the boundaries of legitimate political discourse. Israel’s Central Elections Committee must be denied the authority to disqualify party lists and candidates, and it must be made unequivocally clear that parliamentary action promoting a vision of democracy and equality cannot be grounds for denying the right to participate in the political process.”



During the 6 October 2022 Supreme Court appeal hearing, Adalah General Director Dr. Hassan Jabareen told the justices that “nothing presented in the motion for disqualification would stand up to examination of the Supreme Court; it has all been discussed previously and it was determined that there was no legal basis [for disqualification].


Adalah General Director Dr. Hassan Jabareen (foreground) talks with members of National Democratic Assembly (Balad/Tajammu’) prior to their hearing at the Israeli Supreme Court on Thursday, 6 October 2022. (Photo by Ari Remez/Adalah)


“It has never happened that a party was disqualified because of its political platform – especially if this platform had been considered more than once by the Central Elections Committee and the Supreme Court. Therefore, the request for disqualification must be rejected immediately,” Jabareen said.


“The Anachnu party that had submitted the motion for disqualification decided today – illegally – to submit what it claimed to be ‘new evidence’ for discussion in the Supreme Court. Their lawyers admitted that they had hidden motivations for doing so. This is unacceptable and runs contrary to the norms of the Supreme Court.”


Israeli Supreme Court Chief Justice Esther Hayut reprimanded Anachnu’s lawyer, saying that “the submitted request does not contain new evidence that has not been discussed in the past, and what was presented is – on the one hand – strange and – on the one hand – brief and unclear.”



Adalah General Director Dr. Hassan Jabareen (left) and Balad/Tajammu’ leader MK Dr. Sami Abu Shehadeh at the Central Elections Committee hearing in Jerusalem on 29 September 2022. (Image: Israeli Central Elections Committee/YouTube


The motion to disqualify Balad/Tajammu’ was submitted by the Anachnu (“We”) party, which is running in the upcoming elections. Anachnu claimed that Balad/Tajammu’ rejects Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, and instead supports “a state of all its citizens”.


In his speech before the CEC on 29 September 2022, Adalah Attorney Adi Mansour emphasized this claim had been previously brought before the Israeli Supreme Court, which found it insufficient to disqualify a party list or candidates.


The CEC’s decision also contradicts the Israeli attorney general’s (AG) position; the AG opposed the disqualification, noting that the request did not contain sufficient evidence to meet criteria set by the Supreme Court.


In parallel, the CEC on 29 September rejected disqualification motions filed by right-wing Israeli organizations against the United Arab List (Ra’am), led by MK Dr. Mansour Abbas.


The CEC’s decision not to disqualify Ra’am passed by a 14-0 margin.


Both the United Arab List and the National Democratic Assembly are represented by Adalah.


Attorney Adi Mansour responded to the allegations brought against Ra’am:


Ra’am Is a legitimate and legal representative of its constituency – the Southern Branch of the Islamic Movement – and it has the full right to represent, to be elected, and to act like any public body that cares for its voters. It cannot be criminalized because there are those who do not like its presence in the Knesset."


Adalah General Director Dr. Hassan Jabareen responded to the CEC decision:


“Israel’s Central Elections Committee is a purely political body, not a legal committee, and it should be abolished. Its decisions are driven primarily by racism and populism, in an attempt to win votes by inciting against Palestinian citizens of Israel and their elected representatives – in particular Balad/Tajammu’. Adalah, on behalf of the parties, will challenge the CEC’s decision before the Israeli Supreme Court.”