A group of Arab politicians is forming a new party to represent Israel's Arab Muslims, Christians and Druze. The party will be led by MK Abas Zkoor of Ra'am Ta'al and by former MK Mohammed Kanan.
Zkoor is leaving Ra'am Ta'al following a dispute with party chairman MK Ibrahim Sarsur. The conflict began when Zkoor refused to step down from his position and allow the fifth member on the party list to take his place despite a rotation agreement that he had signed before the elections.
Zkoor said he decided to form a new party due to a strong feeling of disenfranchisement among Israeli Arab voters. Voters feel that Arab parties do not care about their problems, he said. Voter turnout is low in the Israeli Arab community, and many Arab voters choose parties like Kadima and Labor over Arab parties—both signs that the existing Arab parties have failed, Zkoor said.
The new party will represent both religious and secular, its founders said. Zkoor, one of the founders of the Israel's “Islamic Movement within Palestine,” said that unlike Ra'am Ta'al, the new party would represent all Arabic-speaking minorities and not only Muslims.
The party has already reached out to several Arab, Bedouin and Druze politicians and community leaders. Among those who have expressed interest in the party are Sami Issa of the Kfar Kassem Council and Bedouin politician Hassan al-Haib, Kanan and Zkoor say.
Kanan and Zkoor have also contacted Minister of Science, Culture and Sport Raleb Majadele of Labor. Majadele, who made history as Israel's first Arab Muslim minister, confirmed that he had spoken to representatives of the new party and was considering an offer to join their list. Majadele said he would first speak to other members of Labor's Arab camp.
Labor MK Shachiv Shnaan, a member of the Druze community, said he was contacted as well. According to Maariv, Zkoor and Kanan are considering asking Labor MK Nadia Hilou to join them as well. The addition of Hilou, a Christian, could bring more Christian support to the new party, Maariv analysts said.