Balad: A Country of All Its Citizens, Cultural Autonomy for Arabs

The National Democratic Alliance (Balad) was formed and registered as a political party in 1995 by a group of young Israeli Arab intellectuals, headed by Dr. Azmi Bishara.

In the 1999 elections, Balad competed on a joint ticket with the Arab Renewal Movement (Ta'al), headed by Dr. Ahmed Tibi. They won two seats. Due to squabbles between Bishara and Tibi, a request was submitted that same year for the list to disband, and did so after the Knesset approved the request.

Bishara was the first Israel Arab to stand for prime minister, competing against Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak in 1999.

Peace process Balad advocates Israeli withdrawal from all the territories occupied in the 1967 Six-Day War, the establishment of a Palestinian state in the entire West Bank and Gaza Strip, the return of all Palestinian refugees currently resident elsewhere and the return of the Golan Heights to Syria.

Bishara wants Israel changed from the Jewish state to "a state of all its citizens." This proposal has been rejected out of hand in the past by right-wing Zionist circles, who said it was subversive, and called for Bishara to be put on trial.

Economy and society Balad demands that Israel recognize its Arab citizens, include the Druze, as a national minority, and grant them cultural autonomy.

The party has objected to every state budget submitted by every government, on the grounds that it discriminates against the Arab population.

State and religion Balas supports the separation of state and religion.