Meet the new MK: Esawi Freige

Fifth in a series on the 48 new members of the 19th Knesset: Meretz’s Esawi Freige, the party’s sole Arab MK.

January 30, 2013 04:48
4 minute read.
Meretz MK Esawi Freige.

Meretz MK Esawi Freige 370. (photo credit: Courtesy Meretz)


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Incoming Meretz MK Esawi Freige is the first Arab legislator for the party since the 15th Knesset and comes from the town of Kafr Kasim.

Name: Esawi Freige
Party: Meretz
Age: 49
Hometown: Kafr Kasim
Family Status: Married with 7 children
Profession before becoming an MK: Accountant, degree from the Hebrew University

Why did you decide to enter politics?

I decided to enter political life because I want to fight for my home. I believe in involvement in Israeli society and the importance of Meretz as an Israeli party that exists in a sincere and real Jewish-Arab partnership based on a mutual vision.

As a citizen of the State of Israel and also an Arab Palestinian, I think that it is forbidden for us as Arab citizens to be satisfied with a secure position in Arab parties. I don’t want to be someone that only says the right things, but asks for a partnership in doing things and promoting policies.

Meretz is the only party where the Arab public can be a real partner to chart the path of the country. While all of the central parties decorate themselves in Jewish stars and don’t even try to get the Arab vote, Meretz can and should be the bridging element for the Arab sector’s ability to influence.

What are the first bills you plan to propose?
First, I aspire to serve on the Finance Committee so that I will have supervision and the ability to influence the division of the budgetary pie. I want to contribute so that all of the population will get a piece of the pie. Everything begins there.

I also intend to promote laws that will lead to a reduction of social and economic gaps in the country and to create a more equitable economy.

And to stop the existing situation where the interest of the tycoons always takes precedence over the rest of the citizens of Israel.

Also, I will promote investment in the Arab sector, which has been discriminated against in the budgets and investments from the founding of the country until today. I see one of my important roles as an MK as promoting budget policies of affirmative action towards the Arab sector – in infrastructure, education, employment and more. I hope that Arabs will take their part in developing the economy and contributing to its growth.

Do you think haredim and Arabs should do military or national service, and if so, how should the state enforce it?
I believe in equality in Israeli society. As an Arab-Palestinian-Israeli I believe that before the country demands from its citizens it should give to them. The moment there will be full equality in the budgets and its treatment of the Arab public in Israel, then it will be possible to make demands like national service.

What can be done to lower the cost of housing in Israel?
The primary component in the high cost of living is the price of land. The Israel Lands Authority should stop acting like a business entity that tries to maximize its profits at the expense of its residents and allow for the transfer of land for building at a minimal cost.

What do you think can be cut in the budget, which must be passed within 45 days of the government’s swearing in?
I believe that our duty is to strive to end the occupation and establish a Palestinian state. Such a decision would allow the transfer of funds to promote social goals that today are given to the settlements.

What is your position on talks with the Palestinian Authority and a possible Palestinian state?
Israel must seek peace and reconciliation with the Arab world and the Palestinians. This is why we adopted the Arab initiative. Peace should be between governments, and we should conduct immediate negotiations with the elected government of the Palestinian people because peace and reconciliation will lead to economic prosperity for all residents of the region – Israelis and Palestinians alike.

As long as the occupation continues, those who pay the price are the Israelis who will be forced to continue paying out of their pockets for the settlements and suffer from an unstable political and security situation which brings with it less investment in the Israeli economy.

Do you support the adoption of the Edmund Levy Report, which recommends the state approve unauthorized Jewish settlements in the West Bank?
The Levy Report is an invention of the Netanyahu government that nobody takes seriously, not even [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu. It’s a report that was written by people that are identified with the right wing and that is the reason why it has no political influence.

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