History: Labor appoints first ever Arab minister

Thursday, January 11, 2007 |  by Staff Writer  

For the first time since the founding of the State of Israel, an Israeli Arab will serve as a minister in the Israeli government. Knesset Member Raleb Majadele of the Labor Party will serve as the Minister of Science, Culture, and Sports, replacing MK Ophir Pines who resigned from the post two months ago.

Labor chief and Defense Minister Amir Peretz, who announced the nomination Wednesday, described the nomination as a “historical move which will improve the relationships between the segments of population in Israel.”

Majadele will enter his post replacing former Minister Pines, who quit the government to protest the entry of the “Yisrael Beiteinu” party into the coalition and the nomination of its leader Avigdor Lieberman to a ministerial post.

The nomination, however, is seen in the eyes of the political establishment as a desperate move by Peretz to strengthen his deteriorating standing within the Labor Party in light of the party primaries scheduled for May.

In the past, Majadele served as the executive secretary of the “Working and Studying Youth” movement in the town of Baq’a al Garbiyeh, and as head of the regional labor union. He was also elected twice to the position of head of the Education and Sports Division in the Histadrut national labor union.

He began his activities in the Knesset in the middle of the 16th Knesset, and served as a member of the Education, Culture, and Sports Committee, and as chairman of the Interior and Environmental Protection Committee, a post he still holds today. In addition, he is currently a member of the Science and Technology Committee, the Labor, Welfare, and Health Committee, and the special committee for the issue of foreign labor.

In the past, Majadele was quoted saying he will not sit in a government together with Avigdor Lieberman, but last night he said he will be happy to take the post.

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