The chairman of the Israeli-Arab “Balad” party, MK Jamal Zekhalke, wrote a letter to the head of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), asking him not to admit Israel into the body.
On May 10, the OECD invited Israel, as well as Estonia and Slovenia, to become members. Each country’s membership will become official once necessary formalities, including parliamentary approval, have been completed; this is expected to occur by May 27, when an official acceptance ceremony will be held. The three years of deliberations over Israel's acceptance involved investigations by 18 different OECD committees.
If MK Zekhalke had had his way, however, the process would not have concluded successfully. He wrote an urgent letter on Sunday, May 9, to Angel Gurria, secretary-general of the 30-member body, asking him not to accept Israel into the organization.
Zekhalke, who resides in Kfar Kara, between Hadera and Afula just south of the Galilee, claimed that Israel violates civil and economic rights and “does not meet the standards set by the OECD for acceptance.” He accused Israel of discrimination and racism for, among others, “destroying houses in eastern Jerusalem and other [sic] Arab locales.” Jewish land-rights activists have long complained that only a small proportion of illegal Arab structures are demolished.
Zekhalke’s efforts did not pay off, and Israel is on its way to the prestigious body.
The news of the Balad party MK’s letter was overshadowed by news that two of the party founders, Omar Sayid and Amir Mahoul, brother of former MK Isam Mahoul, were arrested last month on charges of spying for Hizbullah against Israel. Another Balad party leader, former MK Azmi Bishara, fled Israel three years ago after it was learned that he was accused of treason and selling secrets to Hizbullah during the 2006 Second Lebanon War.