MK Frej to propose joint Jewish-Arab leadership for Meretz

Frej considering run for leadership which would be the first time an Arab-Israeli has sought to run for head of a Zionist party.

June 12, 2019 05:03
2 minute read.
MK Frej to propose joint Jewish-Arab leadership for Meretz

esawi freij 248 88. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Meretz MK Esawi Frej has stated that he will submit a motion at the party’s conference on Sunday for the party to establish a joint leadership including one Jew and one Arab.

Born in Kafr Kassem, Frej said he is considering running for the leadership position designated for an Arab citizen, and that there was a “50%” chance he would run for the joint-chairmanship of Meretz if his motion is accepted.

“We will remain as we have always been… We are not a radical left-wing party,” Frej told Ynet in response to questions regarding Meretz’s electoral chances. “We are an Israeli left-wing party which sees the good of the country from another perspective.”

Mossi Raz, who served as a Meretz MK in the last Knesset, said he supports the proposal, and could himself run as the leadership candidate for the Jewish party chair.

“We are a country with two nations, and we need to integrate the Arab citizens and connect them to the state and society,” said Raz. “Having a joint Jewish and Arab leadership could advance equal rights for Arabs, create a partnership between Jews and Arabs, help lead toward ending the occupation, and reduce socio-economic gaps in the country.”

Raz said that creating a joint Jewish-Arab leadership would not change Meretz’s ideological stance, and that the party would continue to believe in Israel both as “a state of the Jews” as well as its need to be “a state of all its citizens” – a phrase usually associated with abolishing Israel’s explicitly Jewish character.

He said, however, that Meretz would continue to support the Law of Return for Jews, and that this position would not change.

Raz said he was not sure if the concept of a joint leadership would transpire for the coming election, but that if not, it would likely happen at some stage in the future.

Meretz is scheduled to hold leadership elections ahead of the September 17 general election.

Meretz’s 1,000-member conference is set to decide at the conference convention on Sunday whether to hold an open leadership primary, where all 30,000 Meretz party members will get the chance to choose their new leader, or to limit the vote to the conference members alone.

Current chairwoman Tamar Zandberg supports giving all party members the right to vote in the leadership contest, while Nitzan Horowitz, a former MK for Meretz who announced on Monday that he is also running for the leadership, supports restricting the vote to the conference.

A two-thirds majority is needed in order to approve a vote for all 30,000 members, and with Horowitz’s allies reportedly numbering close to one-third of the conference members, it is likely that the final vote will remain within the conference members alone.

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