Representing the Arab Political Party Al-Jabha against Petition Attempting to Cancel Local Election Results in Sakhnin and Remove Three Members of the Party from the Town Council

HCJ 9822/08 The Movement for Quality Government in Israel v. The Director of Elections for the Sakhnin Municipality, et al.

Today 27 November 2008, the Supreme Court of Israel rejected a petition filed by the Movement for Quality Government in Israel which demanded the cancellation of the local election results in the Arab town of Sakhnin in the Galilee and the removal of three members from the al-Jabha (Hadash) Party from the town’s local council. The petition followed the candidacy of former political prisoner Ms. Taghreed al-Sa’adi, who was convicted in 2002 on security-related charges, on the al-Jabha political party list, despite the fact that she withdrew her candidacy prior to the elections.

The court stated in its decision that the Movement for Quality Government in Israel has no authority to file a motion for the cancellation of the elections results in Sakhnin. Further, the court decided that the petitioner had not brought before it any evidence to indicate that the al-Jabha party list should be prevented from running in the elections.

Adalah’s General Director Attorney Hassan Jabareen, who represented al-Jabha, argued that the petition was void and legally baseless. He contended that the only evidence put forward in the petition was a radio interview conducted with the al-Jabha candidate for the position of Mayor of Sakhnin, Mr. Mohammed Bashir. In the interview, Mr. Bashir stated that al-Jabha would respect the court’s decision (regarding the cancellation of Ms. al-Sa’adi’s candidacy) but would leave the matter to the voters. Attorney Jabareen stressed that this evidence is no evidence at all; a review of election results may only take place in a case of technical or procedural errors in the voting process and not for ideological reasons, the basis of the Movement for Quality Government’s petition.

Adalah’s response to the petition included an affidavit by the head of al-Jabha, MK Mohammed Barakeh. In the affidavit, MK Barakeh stated that al-Jabha’s local lists are an integral part of the national party organization. They are bound to the party’s political platform, which is the achievement of peace, justice and genuine coexistence between Jews and Arabs on the basis of full equality. MK Barakeh added that al-Jabha openly and warmly welcomes any former political prisoner into its ranks, Jew or Arab, who wishes to join the party, on condition that he or she be bound politically and morally to the principles of al-Jabha. He further stated that al-Jabha does not disregard the humanity of a prisoner solely for being a prisoner or former prisoner.

In addition, MK Barakeh stressed that the attempt to disqualify the party was an ideological one, particularly given that the Movement for Quality Government in Israel has never previously sought the disqualification of any party list for being racist, despite the fact that a short time ago the Supreme Court issued a decision against Yoel Lavi, the elected Mayor of Ramle, in which it noted that Lavi had made extremely vulgar and racist statements against Arab citizens of Israel.

Case Citation: H.C. 9822/08, The Movement for Quality Government in Israel v. The Director of Elections for the Sakhnin Municipality, et al. (decision delivered 27.11.08)

The Supreme Court’s decision (Hebrew)
Adalah’s response to the petition (Hebrew)