New initiative calls for Arab parties to join gov't

Abraham Fund director: “The question is, is it natural that 20% of the population does not have a representative in the cabinet?"

February 3, 2013 16:40
2 minute read.
Ibrahim Sarsur and Ahmed Tibi at the President's resident, January 31, 2013.

Ibrahim Sarsur and Ahmed Tibi at President's resident 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)


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The Abraham Fund Initiatives called on Prime Minister Netanyahu late last week to invite the Arab parties to join the government.

The fund works to improve the integration and equality of Arab citizens of Israel.

A statement published by the organization titled, “The Abraham Fund Initiatives to Netanyahu” says that Arab citizens of Israel would like to see their representatives integrated into the decisionmaking process and have Arab politicians invited to join the government.”

The co-executive directors of the Fund in Israel, Amnon Beeri- Sulitzeanu and Mohammad Darawshe, stated that the invitation of the Arab parties to join the coalition has a value in itself, because it conveys a positive message and encourages Arab citizens.

A meeting between Netanyahu and Arab leaders would allow them to place important Arab issues on the agenda of the new government.

Research conducted by the fund before the elections showed that Arab society yearns for real participation in the decision-making process in Israel.

More than 50 percent of respondents to the fund’s survey said it would increase their motivation to vote if the Jewish parties would incorporate Arabs in running the country.

The fund also wrote a letter on January 30 to President Shimon Peres, echoing this message.

Amnon Beeri-Sulitzeanu, the coexecutive director of the Fund, told The Jerusalem Post, “We think that Netanyahu needs to take the initiative and invite the Arab parties to join the government [and] even if [the initiative] does not succeed, he could still appoint an Arab MK as a minister in his government on a professional basis, not a political one.”

He says Netanyahu could also choose an Arab who is not a politician, but a professor for example, to serve as health, transportation, or housing minister.

Beeri-Sulitzeanu says that “the government needs to promote Arabs to senior positions in the civil service – to become for example, director general of various ministries. This period after the elections is a good time to promote Arabs in the government and in public service. We call on Netanyahu not to forget this while he is making his coalition.”

In response to a comment that this initiative has little chance of success, Beeri-Sulitzeanu responded that this is understood, and mentioned that it is also quite possible that the Arab parties would not agree to join for their own reasons. “But the point is that there should be a turning to them, a symbolic approach.” This also serves a purpose.

Beeri-Sulitzeanu emphasizes the importance of this as the beginning of a dialogue and contact between them and the government, which is what the Arab public wants. He says the Fund is aware of this because it monitors Arab opinion.

“The question is, is it natural that 20 percent of the population does not have a representative in the cabinet, does not have a seat at the government table? This is also not good for Jews, not only Arabs.”

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