Esawi Frej leaves Meretz ahead of elections

Frej announced that he had decided to take a break from the Knesset, but not from public life.

Regional Cooperation Minister Esawi Frej.  (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Regional Cooperation Minister Esawi Frej.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Regional Cooperation Minister Esawi Frej retired from the Meretz Party on Tuesday afternoon.

Frej announced that he had decided to take a break from the Knesset, but not from public life. "In the coming months, I will mobilize with all my might to win the election. I will work among Arab society to convince them of the importance of the vote, without it being possible to attribute to me one personal interest or another."

"I am very proud of the way I acted in the Knesset and in the government," wrote on Frej on Facebook. "I worked as much as possible to promote the partnership and strengthen relations between Jews and Arabs in Israel and to establish relations between the State of Israel and its citizens and the countries of the region. I am proud of my membership in the government, a real government of change, a government that instilled hope in large sectors, a government that has done a great deal and that we must ensure that it can continue to do so in the future."

"As a Meretz member for over thirty years, Meretz is the voice I believe in. I will continue to work to strengthen and support this voice that is important to continue to be heard loudly, as part of a large social democratic party," added Frej. "The vision of establishing a significant left-wing party based on the Labor and Meretz parties, should be done quickly, not as a constraint as it was in the past, but out of a genuine desire to establish a large and influential left-wing party."

The minister added that he had updated Prime Minister Yair Lapid, calling him a "leader, friend and partner in the path that I am committed to doing everything I can to continue to lead the State of Israel."

Regional Cooperation Minister Esawi Frej on his way to a cabinet meeting on November 14, 2021 (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/POOL)Regional Cooperation Minister Esawi Frej on his way to a cabinet meeting on November 14, 2021 (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/POOL)

'A friend and partner along the way'

"Isawi is not only an inspiring leader and a true public servant he is also a friend and partner along the way," tweeted Lapid. "I respect his desire to take a break and know that he will continue to operate outside the Knesset and the government with the same diligence and commitment that characterizes him so much. Good luck dear friend!"

Meretz leader Nitzan Horowitz responded to Frej's departure on Tuesday evening, saying "Meretz under my leadership reached a great achievement when it doubled its power in the last election. I introduced Meretz to the government as a significant entity, after 20 years in the opposition. In this spirit, I also appointed Esawi Frej as a minister in the government, in order to strengthen the Jewish-Arab partnership."

Horowitz thanked Frej for contribution to Meretz and wished him well.

"Esawi Frej is not only one of the most courageous, talented and dedicated politicians, but a close personal friend and true partner," said Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg.

"His house in Kafr Qassem with his wife and family were my home, and his departure is a loss for Meretz and the State of Israel," added Zandberg. "I have no doubt that he will continue to contribute to the path he has taken in the past three decades: Jewish-Arab partnership, human and civil rights and peace."