Balad advises Palestinians at Annapolis not to give in

Party urges Palestinians not to agree to the Israeli demand to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

Days before Hamas and Islamic Jihad held "alternative summits" to Annapolis in the Gaza Strip, the Balad Party did the same on Saturday in Shfaram. The Balad council decided to urge the Palestinian negotiating team in Annapolis not to make concessions that could harm the rights of the Palestinian people, and especially not to give in to the Israeli demand to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. The Balad council also sent messages to the Israeli delegation to Annapolis to help the Palestinians. "Recognizing Israel as a Jewish state and not a state for all its citizens is a step toward transferring Israeli Arabs," MK Wasal Taha said. "We endorsed the summit, but as Palestinians, we are suspicious that it can fail like past conferences and lead to a new cycle of bloodshed. We warned them that they have to maintain the rights of the Palestinian people." Former Balad MK Azmi Bishara, who is wanted in Israel on charges of helping Hizbullah during the Second Lebanon War, addressed the event from abroad by cellphone. Taha said Bishara was "either in Amman or Cairo." "The Palestinian people deserve justice and so do I," Bishara told the crowd. Likud MK Yisrael Katz has passed legislation preventing candidates who helped Israel's enemies perpetrate terrorist attacks or who deny Israel's existence as a Jewish state from running for the Knesset. He said this would apply to Balad. "As far as the law goes," Katz said, "Balad made it even more clear with its decisions on Saturday that the party will not be able to run for the next Knesset."