Mohammed Barakeh, the former MK and head of the communist Hadash party, was elected chairman of Israel’s Higher Arab Monitoring Committee on Saturday.
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The committee is an independent political organization tasked with coordinating the political activities of various Israeli Arab organizations. It comprises Arab Knesset members, local council heads and representatives of different streams in the Arab community.
Barakeh ran against representatives from the Islamic Movement’s southern wing and Balad (the National Democratic Alliance), as well as an independent candidate.
The vote was taken by the 53 members of the Central Committee, which represents all Israeli Arab political parties and movements, including those that aren’t represented in the Knesset.
Barakeh told Haaretz he lauded the “democratic and transparent process” in which he was elected. “We are living in a reality in which there is no personal security and Arab blood is cheap, while the prime minister himself incites against the country’s Arab citizens and the Palestinian people,” he said.
“We will stand united against this government and hold out our hand, based on peace and coexistence,” Barakeh added.
The monitoring committee is not formally recognized by the government, though the two have informally engaged in dialogue for many years.
In recent times, the committee has been virtually paralyzed due to internal differences and the conflicting interests of its constituent members. These extend from national and regional policies to ties with the Palestinian Authority and the wider Arab world.
Barakeh announced his intention to resign his position as chairman of Hadash in order to devote himself to his new job full-time.