Jamal Zahalka speaking at the Knesset
Jamal Zahalka speaking at the Knesset, Feb. 23, 2011. Photo by Tomer Appelbaum
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The international community must impose sanctions on Israel in order to curb its government's racism and extremism, an Israeli Arab MK wrote in an op-ed published in the British newspaper The Guardian on Monday.

In the article, Balad chairman Jamal Zahalka described the recent merger between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu parties, saying the move placed Lieberman's fringe views at the center of Israel's government.

"Central to Lieberman's politics is official recognition for the annexation of Jerusalem and the illegal Jewish settlements, in exchange for the transfer of major Arab population centers in Israel to Palestine," Zahalka wrote, adding: "Altogether, Lieberman's aim is to make the citizenship of Palestinian Arabs conditional and temporary. Ultimately, this could result in a pure Jewish state, free of Arab citizens."

Further on in The Guardian article, the Israeli Arab MK compared Lieberman's rise to power with the rise of Austrian right-wing leader Jorg Haider, saying that, at the time, "several European countries imposed sanctions" upon Haider's entrance into the Austrian cabinet.

"Lieberman is far more dangerous than Haider. His stature is proof that extremism has come to dominate in Israel. Should the kind of politics that are rejected in Europe be accommodated in the Holy Land?" Zahalka wrote.

Consequently, the Balad chairman concluded, the international community must sanction Israel's government, saying he believed that "trying to persuade Netanyahu and his government to adopt more moderate policies is a waste of time and effort."

"The only way to ensure change is through pressure and sanctions on the Israeli government. Netanyahu's political conduct shows that he bows only when confronted. Whoever wants a just peace and to prevent looming wars, whoever wants to put an end to the crimes committed by occupation, whoever wants to combat racism, must help in imposing sanctions," he wrote.