What are the major political groups or parties among Palestinian citizens of Israel?

November 15, 2005 IMEU

In the early years of Israeli statehood, most Palestinian citizens of Israel voted for Jewish Israeli political parties, a trend that has never entirely disappeared. They did this primarily due to promises of patronage, and also because Israel banned independent Palestinian political parties, such as al-Ard ("The Land"). A number of Palestinians were active in the pre-state period in the Palestine Communist Party, and continued to be so after the establishment of Israel, although the party split and changed names several times. (More information)

Beginning in the late 1960s, new movements and groups began to emerge within the Palestinian community in Israel. Abna al-Balad, for example, is a political movement founded in 1969 that fights for the return of the Palestinian refugees and for the coexistence of Arabs and Jews on the basis of democratic equality. 

In the 1970s, Palestinians organized a "Committee for the Defense of the Land" to protest the Israeli government's continuing program of expropriating Palestinian lands. On March 30, 1976 the Committee convened the first "Land Day." Israeli police killed six Palestinian protesters and wounded many more. Land Day continues to be commemorated annually on March 30.

Another group, the National Democratic Assembly (at-Tajamu' ad-Dimuqrati al-Watani), also goes by the name Balad, which is the group's Hebrew acronym, and is one of two Palestinian parties currently holding seats in the Knesset. Balad, now led by Jamal Zahalka, a member of the Knesset, also seeks to transform Israel into a democratic, secular state in which Christians, Muslims, and Jews enjoy equal rights. Balad currently has three seats in the Knesset. 

The United Arab List - Ta'al is another Palestinian political party that currently sits in the Knesset, and was formed in 1996 by the union of several smaller Palestinian nationalist parties, including elements of the Islamic Movement. The party supports a two-state solution to the conflict and seeks to transform Israel into a secular state of all its citizens, with equal rights for all. The United Arab List - Ta'al currently holds four seats in the Knesset. 

Hadash, the Hebrew acronym for the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality, is a coalition of political groups based around the Communist Party, and largely supported by Palestinian citizens of Israel. Jewish Israelis are also prominent in the coalition. Hadash currently holds four seats in the Knesset; three of its members - Mohammed Barakeh, Hanna Swaid and Afu Agbaria - are Palestinian, while the fourth - Dov Khenin - is a Jewish Israeli. 

There is also an active Islamic movement among Palestinian citizens of Israel. One faction of the movement advocates the establishment of an Islamic state in all of former Palestine, and accordingly does not participate in electoral politics. A more pragmatic wing of the movement fields candidates for local and national elections as part of the United Arab List - Ta'al, promoting democratic participation as a vehicle for change.