Israeli Arabs Found New Political Group, Following Ban of Islamic Movement Branch

The group calling itself Loyalty and Reform has no plans for now to run in Israeli elections.

A protest against the decision by the Israeli government to outlaw the Islamic Movement's Northern Branch in Umm al-Fahm, November, 2015.
Reuter

Activists in Israel's Arab community announced the establishment of a new political movement on Monday.

Among founders of the movement announced at a Nazareth press conference are former members of the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement, which Israel's government outlawed in November.

The movement, called Loyalty and Reform, has been in the formative stages for months, but its founders have been careful to avoid describing it in religious or ethnic terms. The group pledges proper representation for all groups in Arab society, religious and nonreligious alike.

The organization is an attempt by activists who have not found a place in the Arab party system to establish their own political and social framework, sources involved in the movement said.

For now, the movement will not register as a political party and its members are not planning to run for the Knesset, strenghtening the likelihood that the new organization will make a political home for activists from the banned Islamic Movement’s Northern Branch.

The Islamic Movement  headed by Ra'ad Salah, has run candidates in local but not national Israeli elections. The Southern Branch of the Islamic Movement, though, is represented in the Knesset by the Ra’am party, a faction of the Joint Arab List.

Haaretz has learned that Salah and other senior figures in the Northern Branch will not lead the new movement.

Many in Israel's Arab community see the group as following a trend in Arab countries of banned Islamic organizations setting up new groups within which to operate. 

Mohammed Barakeh, chairman of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee in Israel and a former MK from Hadash, told Haaretz he does not belong to the new party, but was invited to the press conference because of his position as head of an Arab umbrella organization.