Arab politician to start pro-Israel Knesset party

Wednesday, May 02, 2012 |  Ryan Jones

The Israeli political scene may soon be shaken up even more than usual if the efforts of a local Israeli-Arab politician come to fruition.

Sarhan Bader, a local political activist in the Upper Galilee region, announced last week that he intends to establish Israel's first pro-Israel Arab Knesset party.

Until recently, Bader was a member of the ruling right-wing Likud Party. His desire to start an Arab parliamentary faction that actually supports the Jewish state became known in the Prime Minister's Office, which, according to The Jerusalem Post, encouraged him to pursue that goal.

Bader told the newspaper that the current Arab parties (Balad, Hadash and the United Arab List) fail to properly serve their constituents because all they do is oppose and criticize Israel. "Most Arab citizens are in favor of coexisting, cooperating and living in harmony with Jewish Israelis,” he said. “The other Arab parties place too much emphasis on the Palestinians and external Arabs. But it’s more important to serve the Arabs inside Israel who want to live here in peace with our Jewish cousins."

The current Arab Knesset members are constant targets of criticism over their very public hostility toward the nation they supposedly serve. The leaders of the current Arab parties regularly participate in anti-Israel Palestinian rallies, and have been investigated numerous times for visiting enemy states.

Bader said in another interview that his party would break completely with the behavior of the current Arab Knesset members, most notably by not participating in "Nakba Day" ceremonies that mark Israel's rebirth as a "catastrophe."

As evidence that his approach is the right one, Bader noted that despite being much smaller than the Arab population, the Druze community in Israel has curried far more favor by actually working with and as part of the Jewish state. A number of Druze lawmakers serve in center and right-wing parties, including Likud.

Unfortunately, Bader predicted his party would only be officially established some six months from now. At present, government sources are saying that early elections for the next Knesset will be held at the start of September.

Photo: Anti-Israel Arab lawmakers Ahmed Tibi, a former advisor to Yasser Arafat, riles his Jewish colleagues

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