Founded in 1996
Balad (a Hebrew acronym for the National Democratic Assembly) was established prior to the elections for the 14th Knesset in 1996. In political terms, Balad is at the far left of the spectrum of Israeli parties, and it champions turning the State of Israel into a "state of all of its citizens." Balad also supports an Israeli withdrawal from all of the contested territories, advocates granting the right of return to Palestinians in order to solve the refugee problem, and is in favor of the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. The party also works to preserve the national, cultural, and ethnic uniqueness of the Arab minority in Israel, supports the repeal of recognition of the Zionist institutions of the State of Israel, and demands recognition of Israeli Arabs as a national minority. Balad also advocates separation of religion and state in Israel.
In the elections for the 14th Knesset, Balad ran on a joint list with the Hadash party and one of its members, Azmi Bashara, was elected to the Knesset. During the term of that Knesset, Balad broke off from Hadash and prior to the elections for the 15th Knesset in 1999, it formed a joint list with Ahmad Tibi's Ta'al party. This partnership was also unsuccessful. Since 2003, Balad has run for the Knesset on its own. There were two occasions in which the Central Elections Committee disqualified Balad's list – before the elections for the 16th Knesset and before the elections for the 18th Knesset. Both of these disqualifications were overturned by the Israeli Supreme Court.