Azmi Bishara barred from running in Israeli elections
Israel's election commission voted on Wednesday to bar an Arab party and its leader from running in the January 28 general election.
The panel, whose decision is now subject to Supreme Court approval, acted on the advice of Israel's attorney general who had accused lawmaker Azmi Bishara and his Balad party of opposing Israel's existence and backing "terror" groups.
Israel's Attorney General Eliakim Rubinstein had advised the elections board to disqualify Bishara's party for what he described as anti-Israeli sympathies.
Rubinstein accused Bishara of supporting groups such as Islamic Jihad and Hamas.
Rubinstein said Bishara told Hamas activists he supported their struggle against Israel and saw himself as a fighter in their battle.
Bishara has denied the accusations, saying his party opposed violence and the move against him was politically motivated.
Bishara tried to address all the points raised by Rubinstein, one by one. "I believe that a people living under occupation has the right to fight against it, but I never called on the Palestinians to embark on an armed struggle against Israel. I never supported violent activity," he said.
Asked why he has never publicly denounced attacks on women and children, he responded that no law obliges him to do so, but on the personal level, he is appalled by the murder of children, or by incidents such as the lynching of two Israeli reservists in Ramallah at the start of the intifada, Haaretz reported.
Bishara attacked Rubinstein not only for requesting his disqualification, but also for supporting his request with material about Bishara collected by the Shin Bet security service. This material, he charged, contained "blatant lies." (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)