Israeli Arab Party Sues Journalist for Calling It a 'Terrorist Organization'

Balad is demanding Amit Segal take down his article, issue an apology and pay a $77,000 compensation for violating libel laws

Journalist Amit Segal at a government conference, Tel Aviv, February 27, 2019.
Moti Milrod

Balad has filed a libel suit against journalist Amit Segal for 280,000 shekels ($77,000) for calling the Israeli Arab party a “terrorist organization.” Segal’s remarks were made on Channel 12 News and in the Israeli daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth.

Last week, Balad asked Segal, Channel 12 and Yedioth Ahronoth to publish an apology and go back on his statements, but the party did not receive a reply.

>>Read more: Israel's Arab politicians have become the kosher seal of the Jewish race | Opinion 

The lawsuit, filed on Tuesday in the Nazareth Magistrate’s Court, asks the court to order Segal to remove the link to the article involved, publish a public apology and pay the compensation for violating libel laws.

Two weeks ago on “Meet the Press” on Channel 12, Segal called Balad an “armed terrorist organization” that should be banned from running in the Knesset. Other participants on the show’s panel reminded him Balad has members in the Knesset already, and in response Segal said he blames the Supreme Court for that.

Dr. Mtanes Shihadeh, a candidate for the Knesset in the upcoming election on behalf of the Balad-United Arab List joint slate, said the party’s policy was not to file lawsuits against those who incite against us “so as not to turn a political dispute into a dry legal dispute. But Segal, who is known for belonging to the far-right, crossed the line and used his position to harm the party during the election campaign.”   

“We will not allow the legitimacy of Balad to be damaged, which represents the nationalist stream in Arab society and which espouses the most democratic platform – a country of all its citizens,” added Shihadeh.

Segal tried to use the section of the Basic Law on the Knesset on the disqualification of parties to explain his remarks, even though Balad has been approved by the High Court of Justice time after time, said Khaled Titi, the attorney who filed the libel lawsuit on behalf of Balad. “In any case, we cannot accept applying the label ‘terrorist organization’ to a legitimate party that operates according to the law.”