Monday, March 2, 2015

Egypt’s plan for 'joint Arab force' a non-starter, but shows cooperative intent against threats

by Ariel Ben Solomon
Jerusalem Post
March 2, 2015

Expert to ‘Post’: Whether it is a nuclear armed Shi’ite Iran or ISIS, Saudi Arabia may be seeking a way to rally support.

An Egyptian military helicopter, trailing a national flag, circles over Tahrir Square. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Egypt's President Abdel Fatteh al-Sisi said in interviews with Saudi-backed media prior to his visit on Sunday to meet Saudi Arabia’s King Salman that he supports the establishment of a “joint Arab force,” though likely for rhetorical flourish.

However, Egypt and other Sunni Arab states are under external threat and feel the need to unite in some way.

Whether it is a nuclear armed Shi’ite Iran, Islamic State terrorism, or the wish to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime, Saudi Arabia may be seeking a way to rally support, Brandon Friedman, a lecturer at Tel Aviv University and a researcher at its Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, told The Jerusalem Post.

Sunni states that oppose revolutionary Sunni movements have been intensively consulting on how to deal with the threats.
With the exception of Qatar, the Gulf states have been extremely financially supportive of Sisi’s regime, and in return the Egyptian president has been quoted as saying Gulf security is critical.

“The security of the Gulf is a red-line for us,” Sisi said in the interview with the London-based daily Asharq al-Awsat published over the weekend.

The Egyptian leader sees Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Jordan as countries that could begin work on creating such a force, he said in another interview with Al-Arabiya.

While joint military drills and limited cooperation in certain military theaters could be possible, an integrated joint force is highly unlikely. Even within the group of Sunni states that oppose revolutionary Islamic movements, disagreements and egos are likely to get in the way of any functioning combined force.

Tensions have been rising between Egypt and Gulf states according to highly informed Egyptian sources quoted in a report in Ahram Online on Saturday. Saudi financial support to Egypt declined during the last months of former king Abdullah’s rule, they said.

The report noted that the alleged leaked conversation of senior Egyptian officials taking Gulf aid for granted and the accusation of Egypt against Qatar for supporting terrorism may have increased tensions between Egypt and the Gulf.

To read the entire article click here.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Iran nuclear deal, ISIS threat stimulating Sunni powers to unite - even with Israel

by Ariel Ben Solomon
Jerusalem Post
February 27, 2015

Arab leaders and officials have been meeting frequently in past weeks, likely discussing the threat of Islamic State and the Iranian threat.

Foreign ministers of the Arab League take part in an emergency meeting at the league's headquarters in Cairo September 7. (photo credit:REUTERS)

As the US and Shi'ite Iran inch closer to a nuclear deal that many Sunnis and Israelis don’t trust and as Islamic State’s reach spreads, Arab leaders are frantically consulting on how to deal with the threats and some may consider a covert alliance with Israel, a former Pentagon Middle East adviser told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

Harold Rhode, a senior fellow at the New-York-based Gatestone Institute and a former adviser at the Pentagon, said he saw the possibility of a “temporary tactical alliance with Israel” by Sunni Arab states.

He recalled his experience in Washington during the First Gulf War when Iraq invaded Kuwait, when all of the sudden “the heads of all of the [US] Jewish organizations became buddy buddy with the Saudis and Kuwaitis.”

“They worked together as they needed the Jews, and the Jews reacted with great enthusiasm,” he said.

However, said Rhode, the moment Kuwait was liberated in the US-led war, “the Saudis and Kuwaitis began not answering Jews’ phone calls anymore.”

What this teaches us, he continued, is that when the Sunnis have a tactical need, they will seek a temporary alliance with the Jews, “but once the problem is solved, then the old relationship of enmity resumes.”

As long as Iran remains a problem, Israel can expect warmer relations with Sunni states, he said. “Iran is attempting to take over the Sunni world and that is the bottom line,” Rhode said.

Arab leaders and officials have been meeting frequently in recent weeks, discussing the threats from Islamic State and Iran, with improving ties between Tehran and the US always in the background.

Rhode said it would be difficult for Turkey to join a Sunni alliance against Iran because of its economic dependence on the latter country. “I cannot see a united Sunni front, because some support the Muslim Brotherhood and others the Saudi approach,” he said.

Arab leaders and officials have been meeting frequently in recent weeks, discussing the threats from Islamic State and Iran, with the improving relations between Tehran and the US always in the background.

To read the entire article click here.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Joint Arab List pushing Hebrew campaign despite low hope for votes

by Ariel Ben Solomon
Jerusalem Post
February 25, 2015

In the last election, Hadash alone attracted fewer than 10,000 Jewish votes.

A WOMAN walks past campaign posters for the Arab-led Hadash party in the Israeli-Arab city of Umm al-Fahm. (photo credit:REUTERS)

The Joint List continues to expend great effort on its Hebrew campaign strategy, despite its calculation that most of its votes will come from the Arab sector.

Reut Mor, the Joint List and Hadash Party spokeswoman in Hebrew, told The Jerusalem Poston Monday that the mostly Arab candidates in the Joint List had decided from the beginning to reach out and speak in a new way, trying to appeal to all sectors of society.

Asked what goals the Joint List has for getting Jewish votes, Mor responded that, in the last election, she estimates that Hadash alone attracted fewer than 10,000 Jewish votes. The goal in this election is to at least retain these voters and perhaps even increase their numbers, she said.

At first, some of the traditional Jewish Hadash voters were “alarmed” by the Joint List’s component Arab parties, “but after a while I think they heard the messaging and I feel that the fear has been resolved.”

The Joint List launched its Hebrew-language campaign earlier this month at an event in Tel Aviv, where the leaders of the four parties in the bloc spoke.

The bloc is trying to market itself not as an “Arab” list, as it has been described in the media, but as the Joint List, due to Jewish representation and membership in the Hadash Party. The list says it is fighting for equality, democracy, and peace.

It hopes to become the third largest bloc in the Knesset.

The United Arab List, Ta’al, Hadash and Balad struck a deal last month to run together. The decision to raise the electoral threshold to 3.25 percent of the vote and pressure from the Arab public forced the parties to unite in order to overcome the election threshold.

The idea behind the campaign was to reach out to the entire Jewish community in order to demonstrate the legitimacy of the Arab community and its elected members, something Mor said had taken a hit due to what she described as a summer full of racist incidents targeting the Arab community.

“The Arab community wants to be a part of the Israeli community,” she said, adding that the numerous events planned in the Jewish sector are meant to expose it to the Arab voice directly, something that is not often done.

To read the entire article click here.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Why didn’t the recent Turkish incursion into Syria draw ISIS fire?

by Ariel Ben Solomon
Jerusalem Post
February 23, 2015

Former Pentagon official to ‘Post’: I think the big point is that it suggests Turkey has lost control of Islamic State; When you play with fire, you get burned.

Turkey President Recep Tayyip erdogan.. (photo credit:REUTERS,JPOST STAFF)

The Turkish army penetrated deep into Syria on Sunday to rescue its soldiers guarding a revered tomb surrounded by Islamic State fighters, but did not draw any fire from the jihadists.

This raises the question whether the country’s cooperation with the Syrian opposition influenced the smooth operation.

Turkey informed Islamic State and the Syrian government in advance of the operation, but did not get the latter’s agreement, McClatchy reported.

The notification to Islamic State went to fighters “in the area,” the report quoted officials as saying.

Sunni Turkey refuses to cooperate with the US-led coalition against Islamic State, as it sympathizes with the Sunni jihadists and has supported the Syrian rebels against the Syrian regime, allowing them to cross back and forth across its border.

In the regional sectarian confrontation between Sunnis and Shi’ites, Turkey has thrown its support behind revolutionary Sunni movements.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday a military incursion into Syria to relocate a tomb considered to be in sovereign Turkish territory was a temporary measure for security reasons and not a retreat.

A Turkish military operation to rescue 38 soldiers guarding a tomb in Syria surrounded by Islamic State was launched to counter a possible attack on them, presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said on Monday.

The action, which involved tanks, drones, and reconnaissance planes as well as several hundred ground troops, was the first of its kind by Turkish troops into Syria since the start of the civil war there nearly four years ago.

“With this operation, our government has removed the risk of a possible attack on the tomb and the military post, and of endangering the lives of our soldiers,” Kalin told a news conference in Ankara.

The Syrian government described the operation as an act of “flagrant aggression,” a response dismissed by Kalin, who said the Syrian authorities had lost all legitimacy “Turkey used force unilaterally in a cautious manner.

There was a vacuum in the area of the revered tomb and they acted swiftly to remove it,” Prof. Efraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar- Ilan University, told The Jerusalem Post. Inbar argues that this whole operation was just a Turkish public relations maneuver.

“The grave was not in great danger. Islamic State did not touch it and neither did the Kurds.”

Asked what was the real motivation behind the incursion, Inbar responded that it seems to be a move to impress the electorate and send a message to the region that Turkey is strong.

Turkey informed all parties at the last moment so as to emphasize that it “did not need permission from anybody to attain what is considered important to them,” he said.

Michael Rubin, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a former Pentagon official, told the Post regarding the failure of Islamic State to attack Turkish forces, “You don’t bite the hand that feeds you. Coordination if not outright bribery has been going on for months; this is just the latest example,” adding that “the decision to evacuate the shrine now suggests dark clouds on the horizon.”

To read the entire article click here.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Israel 'crucial and loyal ally in fight against Boko Haram,' says Nigerian gov't spokesperson

by Ariel Ben Solomon
Jerusalem Post
February 20, 2015

A Nigerian government spokesman: “Israel has been a crucial and loyal ally in our fight against Boko Haram. It is a sad reality that Israel has a great deal of experience confronting terrorism.”

A girl displaced as a result of Boko Haram attack in the northeast region of Nigeria, rests her head on a desk at Maikohi secondary school camp for internally displaced persons (IDP) in Yola. (photo credit:REUTERS)

A Nigerian government spokesman told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that Israel has been a crucial and loyal ally in the fight against the radical Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram.

“Israel has been a crucial and loyal ally in our fight against Boko Haram. It is a sad reality that Israel has a great deal of experience confronting terrorism,” Mike Omeri, the chief coordinating spokesman of the National Information Center, based in Abuja said. “Our Israeli partners have used that experience, and the unique expertise gained over years of fighting terror within its own borders, to assist us.”

Omeri said they have been incredibly supportive with the training and the tools required to defeat Boko Haram.

Asked what role the US government has in the fight against the terrorist group, he responded that “the American and Nigerian militaries have a long history of close cooperation, strategic alliance, and shared values.”

Nigerian warplanes bombed training camps and equipment belonging to Boko Haram in the northeast’s Sambisa forest on Thursday, the military said, adding momentum to an assault meant to crush the rebels also involving neighbors Chad, Cameroon and Niger.

After a year in which Boko Haram seemed to be gaining ground, seizing swathes of territory, killing thousands of people and kidnapping hundreds of mostly women and children, the tide may now be turning against them, as neighboring countries plagued by cross-border attacks have weighed in.

Nigerian forces backed by air power killed more than 300 Boko Haram fighters since the start of the week, the military said on Wednesday, though it was not possible to corroborate this and the military has been accused of exaggerating enemy casualties and understating its own and those of civilians.

Omeri said Nigeria is simultaneously recapturing numerous territories, defending against new attacks on key areas, and destroying Boko Haram bases.

Yunana Shibkau, a Christian activist for the Northern Coalition for Democracy and Justice, who is from northern Nigeria, said the situation is extremely dangerous for Christians in the north.

To read the entire article click here.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Zionist Union campaign event in Nazareth canceled after Arab pressure on municipality

by Ariel Ben Solomon
Jerusalem Post
February 18, 2015

Israeli Arab media says cancellation due to pressure from the join Arab list on the municipality due to fear of losing Arab votes.

Le parti travailliste célèbre les résultats des primaires du parti. De gauche à droite : Shelly Yachimovich, Stav Shaffir, Itzhak Herzog, Tzipi Livni et Hilik Bar. (photo credit:YONATAN ZINDEL/POOL)

The Zionist Union has canceled a planned campaign event in Nazareth, likely due to pressure from the joint Arab list and its supporters, Israeli Arab media reported on Wednesday.

Israeli Arab news website Kul al-Arab reported that the visit – which party leader Isaac Herzog was to head – had been dropped because the mayor and the municipality had come under pressure from the Joint List, which feared that the Zionist Union would take away Arab votes.

Kul al-Arab owner and general manager Fayez Eshtiwy told The Jerusalem Post that he had heard that Nazareth Mayor Ali Salam had canceled because he was sick with a cold. However, “the question is if that is the truth,” Eshitwy said.

Ghada Zoabi, founder and CEO of the Israeli-Arab news portal, told the Post that to her knowledge, the meeting had indeed been canceled due to pressure on the mayor from the Joint List.

Asked if Arabs were likely to vote for Zionist parties, she responded that some Arabs wanted to strengthen the left-wing Zionist parties, particularly Meretz, in order to prevent a right-wing government.

The United Arab List, Ta’al, Hadash and Balad struck a deal last month to run together, following a decision to raise the electoral threshold to 3.25 percent, and in response to pressure from the Arab public.

Asked if he believed the Joint List would succeed in increasing Arab turnout, Eshtiwy responded in the affirmative, but added that “the campaign hasn’t begun yet and I am not sure why.”

He speculated that the delay could be due to organizational issues in coordinating such a diverse group of parties, or to the hearings on whether to disqualify MK Haneen Zoabi from the election, which have taken up the bloc’s attention.

The Kul al-Arab owner predicted that the Joint List campaign would begin in a matter of days, with advertisements in the Arab media.

To read the entire article click here.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Syrian rebels call on Israel to bomb Hezbollah-Iran-Syria positions

by Ariel Ben Solomon and Reuters
Jerusalem Post
February 12, 2015

Israeli Druse in touch with Rebels tells ‘Post’: The Syrian opposition asked for me to relay a message to the Israeli Prime Minister that Israel should give Hezbollah and Iran another hard hit.

A pair of US Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles fly over northern Iraq after conducting airstrikes in Syria. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Syrian rebels, whose forces are fighting against a new offensive in the South by the axis of the Syrian Army, Hezbollah, and Iran, is calling on Israel to attack their positions.

An Israeli Druse who is in frequent contact with the Syrian opposition said that the warning came to alert the IDF, before the axis is able to take the Syrian Golan that borders Israel.

A Syrian rebel commander in the South vowed to wage guerrilla war against the Lebanese group Hezbollah and Syrian government forces, which have launched a major offensive against insurgents in the sensitive border region near Israel and Jordan.

The offensive that got under way this week is focused in an area south of Damascus that is the last notable foothold of the mainstream armed opposition to President Bashar Assad, who has consolidated control over much of western Syria.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks the war, says the push is being spearheaded by Hezbollah, and that government forces and allied militia have made significant progress.

Mendi Safadi, who served as former Likud deputy minister Ayoub Kara’s chief of staff, has independently met with members of the liberal and democratic Syrian opposition who oppose the Islamists and want friendly relations with Israel.

Safadi met a week and a half ago with Syrian rebel leaders in Bulgaria and has traveled in the region, met with activists, and relayed messages from them to the Prime Minister’s Office.

He was responsible for relaying the congratulatory letters from the Syrian opposition to then President-elect Reuven Rivlin.

Over the past few days there has been a heavy battle going on between the forces aided by Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah against the Syrian opposition, Safadi told The Jerusalem Post in an interview on Thursday.

The Syrian axis is “using all means” to achieve their objective of taking the area in southern Syria that borders Israel, he said.

The rebels have succeeded in some areas, “but have been hit hard.”

The rebels have suffered many wounded over the past few days, which means that more are crossing into Israel for medical treatment.

Around 2,000 Syrians have been treated in Israel, according to Safadi.

Iranian Revolutionary Guard Gen.

Muhammad Allahdadi was killed with a Hezbollah commander and the son of the group’s late military leader, Imad Mughniyeh, in an alleged Israeli attack last month on a Hezbollah convoy near the Israeli Golan Heights.

Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran and fought a 34-day war with Israel in 2006, said six of its members died in the strike.

After receiving this hard hit, “Hezbollah and Iran want to show that they can withstand it and still have motivation to fight,” argued Safadi.

“The Syrian opposition contacted me yesterday [Wednesday] in a Whatsapp message and asked for me to relay a message to the [Israeli] prime minister that Israel should give Hezbollah and Iran another hard hit to stop their progress,” reported Safadi.

The Free Syrian Army commander of a large unit in southern Syria, who did not want to be identified, claimed to Safadi that the Syrian allied forces intend to reach the Israeli border and use it to carry out terrorist attacks against the Jewish state.

“The commander relayed to me coordinates where Syrian and Hezbollah forces are located,” said Safadi, adding that he cannot reveal this information.

The Syrian government is getting a tremendous amount of support from Hezbollah, Iran, and Russia, and the rebels in the South are “simple people without a proper army or weapons.”

The Syrian Army said on Wednesday that territory including four hills and three towns had been secured from insurgents it identified as members of the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front.

Mendi Safadi meeting with Syrian opposition leader Dr. Kamal Al-Labwani

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Jordanian escalation against ISIS may lead to surge in terror attacks in Kingdom

by Ariel Ben Solomon
Jerusalem Post
February 6, 2015

Islamic State is probably going to try to retaliate, though it will not be able to invade the Kingdom as it did Iraq, expert says.

Jordanian protesters hold up pictures of Jordanian King Abdullah and Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh, as they chant slogans during a rally in Amman to show their loyalty to the King and against the Islamic State, February 5, 2015.. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Jordan's move to intensify ts military operations against Islamic State in response to the burning alive of its air force pilot may lead to terrorist attacks in the kingdom.

Jordanian fighter jets struck Islamic State targets in Syria on Thursday, a day after King Abdullah called for more action against the group.

Islamic State is not an organization likely to take heavier attacks by a neighboring Muslim government lightly, nor the execution of two prisoners it had previously demanded in exchange for the Jordanian pilot.

Islamic State already offered a reward on Wednesday to anyone who kills or wounds a Jordanian pilot, the Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor of MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute) reported.

“The Islamic State’s Shura Council offers a reward to anyone killing or wounding a Jordanian pilot and preventing him from flying as part of the Crusader coalition that is attacking Muslims in the Islamic State,” said the statement posted on an Islamic State affiliated Twitter account.

Also posted was a list of 52 Jordanian pilots and their addresses, ranks, and jobs, whose identities were allegedly given by the murdered pilot Mouath al-Kasaesbeh, according to the report.

Islamic State has supporters in Jordan, even if their numbers are not too numerous.

Jordan hanged two Iraqi jihadists, one a woman, on Wednesday and vowed to intensify military action against Islamic State.

“We are waging this war to protect our faith, our values and human principles and our war for their sake will be relentless and will hit them in their own ground,” state television quoted the king as saying during a security meeting.

Jordan, which is part of the US-led alliance, had promised an “earthshaking response” to the killing of its pilot, Kasaesbeh, who was captured when his F-16 crashed.

Ala’ Alrababa’h, an Amman native and expert on Jordan based in Washington, told The Jerusalem Post that he is not sure the country would go as far as sending ground troops to fight against Islamic State, “but the country is clearly intensifying its fighting against IS and this will likely increase with time.”

To read the entire article click here.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Experts see family competition behind Saudi king succession struggle

by Ariel Ben Solomon
Jerusalem Post
January 31, 2015

Expert sees Salman’s son and new defense minister, who has headed the crown prince’s court, as the key player to watch.

The body of Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz is carried during his funeral at Imam Turki Bin Abdullah Grand Mosque in Riyadh. (photo credit:REUTERS)

A report on the Saudi succession exposes the family struggle going on behind the scenes and how newly appointed King Salman has quickly maneuvered to fill top posts with close kin.

The report published this past week by Prof. Joshua Teitelbaum, an expert on the modern Middle East at Bar- Ilan University’s Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, says the accession of King Salman has been smooth so far as “Saudi royals know that a succession struggle will only hurt them.”

Teitelbaum called the succession the “return of the ‘Sudayri Seven,’” after the powerful royal faction.

“The founding monarch [of Saudi Arabia] Abd al-Aziz had dozens of sons. These formed into tribe-like factions based on a shared mother,” he explained. “The most important faction to emerge was that of the seven sons of Hasa bint Ahmad al-Sudayri. This faction produced two kings, King Fahd (d. 2005) and the new King Salman, as well as the long-serving interior minister, Prince Nayif (d. 2012) and the even longer serving defense minister Prince Sultan (d. 2011).”

“This faction of full brothers operates as a group against contenders, but can be at odds internally when they vie for positions,” he said in the Begin-Sadat Center report.

Simon Henderson, the Baker fellow and director of the Gulf and Energy Policy Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told The Jerusalem Post that he predicts the transition is less likely to be smooth despite the House of Saud’s efforts to give this impression.

Henderson sees Salman’s son and the new defense minister and who has headed the crown prince’s court, as the key player to watch.

“Only in his 30s, Muhammad bin Salman has yet to demonstrate a clear skill set, but his ambition is gigantic,” wrote Henderson in an article this past week in The Atlantic monthly.

Henderson told the Post last week that Muhammad is ruthless and he “orchestrated the removal of four deputy defense ministers in the space of just over a year.”

To read the entire article click here.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Analysis: Arab party unity deal – will it last?

by Ariel Ben Solomon
Jerusalem Post
January 26, 2015

Now that each party has guaranteed seats in the next Knesset, it can be expected that ideological and personal differences will break it apart.

UAL-Ta'al MK Ahmad Tibi holds a Palestinian flag on Temple Mount. (photo credit:Courtesy)

The Arab parties achieved unity deal last Thursday after weeks of tough negotiations, but one thing is clear: It came under pressure and is likely to split up sooner rather than later.

The parties bickered endlessly over who would get higher positions on the list, with personal and ideological differences also playing a part in the delay.

The United Arab List, Ta’al, Hadash, and Balad struck an historic deal Thursday night to run as a united bloc. The decision to raise the electoral threshold to 3.25 percent of the vote and pressure from the Arab public have forced the parties to band together.

Now that each party has guaranteed seats in the next Knesset, it can be expected that ideological and personal differences will break it apart.

The struggle to maintain unity was evident on Sunday in back-to-back interviews on Army Radio dealing with the controversy over the cancellation by the nation’s largest bookstore chain, Steimatzky, of its in-store launch of the sale of the Charlie Hebdo French weekly after Arabs objected to its depiction of the prophet Muhammad.

Masud Gnaim, the head of the southern Islamic Movement’s United Arab List, has come out strongly against sale of the weekly. He warned on Army Radio on Sunday that the result could trigger violence from the Arab public.

On the other hand, Dov Henin, from the socialist, secular, Jewish-Arab Hadash Party, when pressed to respond as to whether he agreed with Gnaim, said that he disagreed and supported freedom of expression and wouldn’t have prevent the distribution of the magazine.

To read the entire article click here.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Arab parties reach historic deal, unite for upcoming election

by Ariel Ben Solomon
Jerusalem Post
January 23, 2015

A decision to raise the electoral threshold to 3.25 percent of the vote to win seats in the Knesset has forced the parties to band together.

MK Ahmed Tibi (UAL - Ta'al) in the Knesset.. (photo credit:MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Arab parties closed a historic unity deal to form a united bloc for the general election.

Despite the united list, the parties maintain unresolved ideological differences, but the move is meant to gain the maximum number of Knesset seats.

United Arab List, Ta’al, Hadash and Balad struck the deal Thursday night. The discussions revolved around running together on one list or on two.

The decision to raise the electoral threshold to 3.25 percent of the vote to win seats in the Knesset has forced the parties to band together.

The list will be led by new Hadash head Ayman Odeh, followed by the southern Islamic Movement’s United Arab List’s Masud Gnaim, Balad head Jamal Zahalka in the third slot, and Ta’al head Ahmed Tibi fourth.

They are followed by Aida Touma-Sliman (Hadash), Abd al-Hakim Hajj Yahya (United Arab List), Haneen Zoabi (Balad), Dov Henin (Hadash), Taleb Abu Arar (United Arab List), Basel Ghattas (Balad) and Yosef Jabareen (Hadash).

The 12th through 15th spots are to be shared in a rotation between some of the parties.

The committee dealing with efforts to unite the parties was meeting in Kafr Kari, and an unnamed source involved in the talks called it a historic and unprecedented agreement, Channel 2 reported.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Former Knesset speaker to ‘Post’: Nationalism most dangerous kind of politics in Israel

by Ariel Ben Solomon
Jerusalem Post
January 8, 2015

Avraham Burg plans to expand Hadash party into something "broader and more comprehensive."

Avraham Burg. (photo credit:Wikimedia Commons)

Hadash is the “only party fully committed to Jewish-Arab equality,” former Knesset speaker Avraham Burg told The Jerusalem Post in an interview on Wednesday.

“I voted for Hadash over the last few election campaigns and I have been writing about it, my views are out there,” said former Labor MK Burg, who joined the Arab-Jewish party on Saturday.

“The nationalistic discourse in the Israeli sphere has cornered the other parties into the same nationalistic discourse,” he said. “Nationalism here is the most dangerous kind of politics that needs to be replaced with a civic one.”

The “core principle of the Israel system should be the equality of all of its citizens,” he argued.

Asked if civic equality is not already part of the state, Burg dismissed the notion.

“I don’t buy it,” Israel is not fully democratic or equal, but gives more privileges to Jews, he said. Israel should strive to model itself on the democratic systems of the US and the EU, Burg said.

Within this kind of civic government, every community can express itself as it likes, but “the state itself should be indifferent to ethnicity and should be equal for all.”

Asked about his plans for the Hadash party, Burg said he plans “to expand it into something wider and more comprehensive.”

To read the entire article click here.