This biography of a living person needs additional citations for verification. (June 2009) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
|Date of birth||11 January 1955|
|Place of birth||Kafr Qara, Israel|
|Knessets||16, 17, 18, 19, 20|
|Faction represented in Knesset|
Zahalka was born in Kafr Qara. As a teenager, he participated in PLO activities in Kafr Qara. Zahalka studied at a Jewish high school in Haifa. While in the middle of 12th grade, he was arrested over his PLO activities, as at the time the PLO was an outlawed organization. He was convicted and imprisoned for two years. He completed his matriculation in prison. After his release from prison, he studied pharmacy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In 1977, he met Azmi Bishara at the university. He earned a BA, MA and PhD. His doctoral thesis was on the physiological properties of hashish. He was active in Arab and left-wing groups, and in the Israeli Communist Party. For a time, Zahalka studied in East Germany, and returned to Israel in 1989. He worked as a pharmacist prior to his entry into politics.
He was first elected to the Knesset in 2003 on Balad's list, and was re-elected in 2006.
After Azmi Bishara fled the country, Zahalka became Balad's leader. He headed the party's list in the 2009 elections, and was returned to the Knesset as the party won three seats.
Zahalka is an active member of Knesset, and is a member of the Education, Culture, and Sports Committee; the Committee on Drug Abuse; and the Economic Affairs Committee in the 18th Knesset.
Zahalka lives in Kafr Qara and is married with three children.
Views on the treatment of Palestinians by Israel
Zahalka describes Israel's political discourse about the Palestinians as revolving around the ideas of separation, apartheid, and transfer. He argues that an apartheid system is already in place, with the West Bank and Gaza Strip separated into "cantons," and Palestinians required to carry permits to travel between them.
- Jamal Zahalka on the Knesset website
- A State of all its Citizens: An interview with Jamal Zahalka ZNet Magazine, 28 February 2007