MK Samy Abu Shahadeh on Saturday won the primaries for the leadership of the Balad party and defeated his predecessor, MK Mtanes Shihadeh, who will not be in the next Knesset.

Balad is one of the four parties that makes up the predominantly Arab Joint List faction.

In the past, journalist Yishai Friedman reported that Abu Shahadeh was a guest at a Middle East Monitor conference where he claimed that Israel was a "racist entity" created by Zionism, which he described as "an ugly and racist project." He further claimed that Jews themselves were also racists.

Abu Shahadeh also participated in the release of a terrorist who was in prison for conspiring with Hamas to carry out terrorist attacks in Israel.

Last year, he recorded a video in which he expressed his "appreciation" for the "heroic efforts" of the mothers of Palestinian Arab terrorists.

Balad has declared its opposition to Israel as a Jewish state and pushed to turn the country into a “state of all its citizens”. The party has been barred in previous elections from running by the election committee, only to have the decisions overturned by the Supreme Court.

MKs who have served on its behalf in the past include Jamal Zahalka, Hanin Zoabi, Basel Ghattas and Azmi Bishara, who was suspected of spying for Hezbollah during the Second Lebanon war and fled Israel to evade arrest.