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A leading Israeli Arab political figure warned Saturday that it is only a matter of time before an Israeli Arab leader is assassinated.

"The political murder of an Arab public figure is a matter of where and when," Amir Mahoul, chairman of a committee for the protection of freedoms, told a conference put together by the organization in Umm al-Fahm.

"We are a group that is in real danger, and the state is responsible for this," he said.

Mahoul said incitement against the Arab community by Israeli Jewish leaders, especially in the wake of the Mercaz Harav terrorist attack that left eight dead, is not limited to marginal politicians but rather emanates from the political center as well.

Several Arab parties that were supposed to participate in the conference boycotted the event, including Hadash. Balad and the Islamic Movement, however, took part in the gathering.

Mahoul said the primary differences between the various Arab movements center around the manner in which they seek to confront the Israeli establishment. According to Mahoul, the organizations that participated in the conference want to establish new rules of the game in dealing with the state, while those organizations that boycotted are satisfied with the current rules of the game

Shawki Khatib, chairman of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, was also present at the event, saying that the Israeli Arab community is being politically persecuted. Khatib, however, urged a dialogue with Jewish leaders.

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