Labor's Arabs want to stay in gov't

Majadle: Administration has done most for Arab sector since Rabin gov't, "what more can we want?"

Majadle 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Majadle 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Opposition within the Labor Party to a Likud-sponsored bill to dissolve the government fomented over the weekend, as representatives of the Arab sector met Saturday in Baka al-Gharbiya to deliver an ultimatum to party leadership: Stay in the government or else. During the morning meeting, 80 of the leading lights of Labor's Arab sector, including MK Nadia Hilou, met and offered their support to the party's top-ranking Arab official, Science and Technology, Culture and Sport Minister Ghaleb Majadle. Majadele opposes MK Silvan Shalom's proposal to disband the government, which is set to reach the Knesset floor for its preliminary reading on Wednesday. Arab party representatives at the meeting blasted the party for considering offering support for Shalom's bill, arguing that it was in the Arab sector's interest to keep the current government standing strong. The Arab sector is the second largest sector in the Labor Party. Speakers at the meeting emphasized that the current administration has proven one of the best in the history of the state in terms of furthering the interests of the Arab sector, and expressed concern that dissolving the government could lead to elections that would bring Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu back into the premiership. "I have to represent my constituency. This government is doing more to help the Arab sector than any government in Israel's history except the government of Yitzhak Rabin. It's negotiating indirectly with Syria, directly with the Fatah and reached a cease-fire in Gaza. What more can we want?" asked Majadle during an interview a day earlier on Israel Radio. The leaders of the Arab sector declared their support during the Saturday meeting for Majadle's call to take the decision on whether or not to support Shalom's bill to the Labor central committee for a vote. Although acknowledging the unlikelihood of convening the central committee before the bill's slated reading on Wednesday, one member of Majadle's camp suggested that the weight of the Arab sector might be enough to push for a delay on the vote until the committee had a chance to convene. Labor officials, however, said the central committee would only convene before the second and third readings and that in the meantime, the Labor faction in the Knesset would decide whether or not to support Shalom's bill in its first reading. Sources close to Majadle said he would use Monday's faction meeting to try to seek support to delay the vote on Shalom's bill until after the central committee could be convened.