Daily Israel Report

Druze MK Ayoub Kara is Seeking a Ministerial Post

If appointed, MK Ayoub Kara would not be the first non-Jewish minister in Israel, but he would be the first representing the nationalist camp.
By Nissan Ratzlav-Katz
First Publish: 2/24/2009, 4:35 PM

Israel News Photo: (file)

Ayoub Kara, a veteran Likud party representative slated to serve in the new Knesset, sees himself as a minister in the next Israeli government. If appointed, he would not be the first non-Jewish minister in Israel, but he would be the first non-Jew to represent the nationalist camp.

Kara, who is being sworn in as an MK this afternoon, informed the media Tuesday that he plans to insist on a ministerial post from Prime Minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu. Backing up his decision, Kara, a member of the Druze minority in Israel, is recruiting the religious and political leadership of his community.

Regarding the potential constitution of a Likud-led coalition, Kara said this week, "Netanyahu must, first of all, maintain his nationalist coalition of 65 MKs from the parties that supported him and recommended him to the President. ...We promised a nationalist government, and if, Heaven forbid, we take a different path, our trustworthiness will be sorely compromised."

A supporter of Moshe Feiglin's Jewish Leadership faction in the Likud, Kara strongly opposed the Disengagement and refused to defect to Kadima in then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's wake. He was not re-elected to the Knesset in 2006, when the Likud won only 12 seats, but he is once again entering the Knesset on the Likud list Tuesday.

Another new Druze Knesset member representing a center-right Zionist party is Israel Beiteinu's number 12, Hamed Amer. He is a 43-year-old lawyer from Shfaram, in the north of the country.

In 2001, then-Knesset Member Salah Tarif of Labor, also a Druze Israeli, became the nation's first non-Jewish minister. He served as minister-without-portfolio in the government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. He resigned in 2002 in the wake of corruption charges.

Aside from Kara, there are at least 15 Likud members who see themselves as candidates for ministerial posts. Netanyahu can't appoint them all, but he may decide to reinstitute deputy minister portfolios to resolve the competing demands. Non-Jewish deputy ministers have served in the Israeli government since the 1970s.