On 12 January, Israel’s Central Elections Committee acquiesced to a request by the radical right wing National Unity political party to ban two Arab parties from participating in national elections scheduled for February. The Elections Committee, a partisan body composed of representatives of the political parties, voted overwhelmingly to ban the parties. The Labour Party representative on the committee, Eitan Kabel, also voted "by patriotic reasons", for the ban despite his party’s decision not to support it. Although analysts predict that Israel’s Supreme Court, to which a petition in this matter was submitted today (Monday, January 19, 2009), will overturn this partisan and racist decision.
The detentions are additionally part of Israel’s mostly successful campaign to conceal internal popular protests against Israeli attacks on Gaza. Hundreds of thousands of people throughout Israel, both Arabs and Jews, have taken to the streets in public protest against Israeli war crimes in Gaza. Protests throughout Israel have occurred almost every day since Israel commenced attacks on 27 December; the Arab Higher Monitoring Committee has organized three massive demonstrations in Palestinian towns and villages in northern and southern Israel, attending by over 200,000 people, and the Coalition against the War has initiated local and national demonstrations with tens of thousands of participants, mostly members of Hadash and the Communist Party of Israel, in Tel-Aviv and other mayor cities. The concerted campaign by the Israeli government and Zionist political parties from the “left-wing” Meretz through the far right has succeeded, however, in creating a local and international illusion that there exists no opposition to the military attacks within Israel.