Meet the new MK: Basel Ghattas

Balad MK Basel Ghattas criticizes the lack of Arab media and says a two-state solution is no longer viable.

Balad MK Basel Ghattas 370 (photo credit: Courtesy Balad)
Balad MK Basel Ghattas 370
(photo credit: Courtesy Balad)
Incoming Balad MK Basel Ghattas, a Christian Arab and co-founder of Adalah, the legal center for Arab minority rights, is outspoken about the likelihood that a two-state solution is no longer viable.
Name: Basel Ghattas Party: Balad
Age: 56 Hometown: Rama Family Status: Married with one daughter Profession before becoming an MK: Ghattas received his BSc in civil engineering and his MSc and DSc in environmental engineering from the Technion- Institute of Technology in Haifa. He also has an MBA from a joint Northwestern University/Tel Aviv University program.
He is the publisher and founder of Malakam, a monthly Arabic-language economy magazine. He also established an economic consulting company with other partners.
From 1995-2007 he was the general director of the NGO The Galilee Society, which focuses on health and the environment.
He was also the co-founder of Itijah, the umbrella organization for Palestinian NGOs in Israel.Why did you decide to enter politics?
All my life I was involved in politics and I was involved in many initiatives. I was involved as a student and when I was an engineer and a community activist.
Politics was natural for me.What are the first bills you plan to propose?
I want to propose many ideas to improve the national insurance [welfare] situation and that of the poorest of the poor, especially among the Arab population where we discovered the allowance to Arabs doesn’t allow them to go above the poverty line. I want to lead many initiatives for economic growth in the bottom sector of society with cooperation from the private sector. There should be incentives for the private sector to engage in the Arab sector.
On the environmental level, I am interested because of my experience and education.
I have many ideas in this area. I wrote a lot about environmental justice.What was the most interesting experience on the campaign trail?
I didn’t imagine before the campaign how much we – the Arabs – are very much exposed to the Jewish media. We are fully dominated by the Jewish media. I knew that Yediot Aharonot is very famous and that Arabs watch channels 1, 10, and 2, but I didn’t realize how much.
We are brainwashed from the Israeli media and their coverage against Arab MKs. The view they spread is that the Arab MKs only deal with the Palestinian issue and not our own local issues.
When we asked people we discovered how much our media is lacking. We don’t even have one TV channel and we have only one radio station in the Galilee. We are so dependent on the Israeli media.What is your position on talks with the Palestinian Authority and a possible Palestinian state?
 In reality, Israel is making it impractical because of settlement building, which means eventually that there will be one state of apartheid and this is unfortunate.
But looking at the reality I think the time is over for the two-state solution.
The government is not capable of withdrawing thousands of settlers. The coming government will only increase settlements and will just play the game of negotiations.
Another four years will pass without a two-state solution and eventually we will see that this won’t happen, and apartheid and occupation will come.
I am not calling for a one-state solution but that is what is happening in reality.