Israeli Arab to form new pro-Israel party

Founder of party tentatively labeled Israeli-Arab Nationalist Party says other Arab parties serve only Palestinians.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
April 27, 2012 01:20
2 minute read.
Israeli Arabs at protest in Jaffa

Israeli Arabs at protest in Jaffa R 390. (photo credit: REUTERS/NIR ELIAS)

 
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Move over Balad, Hadash and the United Arab List-Ta’al.

In the next general election, there will be a new Arab party. But what is tentatively labeled the Israeli-Arab Nationalist Party will be very different from the current Arab factions in the Knesset.

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While those factions’ MKs have been criticized for being too extreme and vocal in their criticism of the Jewish state, the new party will be unabashedly pro-Israel and take a very different approach.

“Most Arab citizens are in favor of coexisting, cooperating and living in harmony with Jewish Israelis,” the party’s founder, Sarhan Bader, told The Jerusalem Post. “The other Arab parties place too much emphasis on the Palestinians and external Arabs. But it’s more important to serve the Arabs inside Israel who want to live here in peace with our Jewish cousins. After we solve the problems of internal Arabs, we can help the Palestinians.”

Bader said he would fight for the rights of Israeli Arabs and fair expression for his sector, which he said totaled 22 percent of the population. He said his party would represent its constituency better than the current Arab parties, in part because he intends to join the coalition, which no Arab party has ever done.

“To serve the Arabs properly, it’s important to work together with the ruling party in the coalition,” he said. “The Druse MKs who are part of the coalition [in Likud, Yisrael Beytenu and the Independence Party] help their constituency a hundred times more than every Arab MK in the opposition. I will dramatically improve things for the Arab sector.”

Bader, 36, has been involved in local politics for many years in Nahaf, his Upper Galilee village.

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Out of a belief that large ruling parties can be more effective, he was a member of the Likud before deciding that the formation of a pro-Israel Arab party was more urgent.

Asked if backing Likud caused him problems, he admitted that he had encountered hostility but said he always resolutely defended his politics.

Bader’s behavior reached the Prime Minister’s Office, which encouraged him to form the party that may end up acting as an Arab satellite party of Likud.

“Only a strong party like Likud can bring peace,” he said. “It’s true historically.

The Left won’t bring peace. Labor never did anything for the Arab sector. It’s time to give a chance to the Right.”

Bader described the party as six months away from being ready.

Mocking the current Arab lawmakers again, he blasted their visits to Libya and Lebanon.

“They went to Gaddafi and called him a king to get money from him for a soccer stadium and a few months later they called him a murderer,” he said.

In a recent interview with journalist Shalom Yerushalmi, Bader predicted that his party would win three seats in the next election. Yerushalmi asked how the party would mark “Nakba Day,” the anniversary of Israel’s founding that Palestinians and some Israeli Arabs observe with anti-Israel rallies.

“We won’t officially mark the day,” he said. “But I am not responsible for what each person feels in his heart.”

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