Arab’s cabinet admission delayed
THE APPOINTMENT of Israel’s first Arab-Muslim cabinet minister, Raleb Majadele, has not gone smoothly and the Labour Knesset member is still waiting to take his seat around the cabinet table.
Mr Majadele was nominated to the post of minister of science, culture and sport a week-and-a-half ago by Labour leader Amir Peretz, as part of the quota of Labour ministers serving in Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s coalition government.
The nomination was immediately attacked by Esterina Tartman, chair of the Yisrael Beiteinu faction. Ms Tartman said the appointment was like “swinging an axe at the tree called Judaism”, and that “we need to uproot this terrible evil from among us”.
Ironically, the ministerial post to which Mr Majadele was nominated became vacant after its previous holder, Ophir Pines-Paz, resigned from the government in protest at the rightwing Yisrael Beiteinu party joining the coalition.
Mr Olmert meanwhile said last week that the time had come for Israel to appoint an Arab minister but nevertheless delayed approving the appointment, claiming that Mr Peretz had not provided him with enough advance warning.
Mr Olmert’s aides have reportedly said that there was no guarantee that Mr Majadele’s appointment would be approved next week either, due to Mr Olmert’s desire to hold a cabinet reshuffle.
In response, Mr Peretz’s aides have warned of a coalition crisis.
Although Mr Majadele would be the first Muslim minister, Salah Tarif, a Druze Labour MK, was appointed minister without portfolio in 2001.