Meretz MK Issawi Frej.
(photo credit: WIKIMEDIA)
Officially joining the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee this week and becoming only the third Israeli Arab ever to do so, MK Esawi Frej of Meretz has a message: He cares about security, too.
“We’re part of the Israeli public, and security is no less important to Arabs. We’re in the same country, and security is important to all of us,” Frej told The Jerusalem Post Tuesday.
For Frej, the answer to security is in the diplomatic process.
“I think security is peace... War isn’t security. We give greater weight to the diplomatic process because we think it will bring security. It’s the same goal, but a different way to reach it.”
Frej replaced Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On, after she resigned from the Knesset last month. He is only the third Israeli Arab to join the prestigious Knesset committee, following in the footsteps of the members of the panel in the 15th Knesset, Hashem Mahameed of Hadash, who is Muslim, and Sallah Tarif of Labor, who is Druse.
The Meretz MK, however, was upset by the media coverage of his new role, saying they’re “giving it too much weight.”
“Why shouldn’t there be another voice?” he asked.
“Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee is like any other committee in the Knesset in which we’re active, like Economics or Finance. We should take part and say what we think.”
Frej said he intends to emphasize issues of specific importance to the Israeli-Arab minority, such as reinforcing structures in Arab communities to defend against rockets and missiles.
Frej said that 18 Israeli Arabs were killed by Hezbollah missiles during the Second Lebanon War.
“Today, 70% of Arab towns are not prepared for war.
There’s not enough reinforcement and not enough shelters,” he lamented. “Are we second-class citizens?”