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Israeli Arabs take their message to the White House

Arab Knesset member Ahmad Tibi (Joint List) tells Al-Monitor that Obama administration officials he met with in Washington are concerned about discrimination against Israeli Arabs.
Israeli-Arab candidate who is member of a Joint List of Arab parties Ahmad Tibi (L) delivers a speech next to Israeli Arab political leader and leader of the joint list of Arab parties, Ayman Odeh, at the party's headquarters in the city of Nazareth on March 17, 2015 as they react to exit poll figures. The Joint List grouping Israel's main Arab parties took third place in Tuesday's general election, winning 13 seats, exit polls showed. AFP PHOTO / AHMAD GHARABLI        (Photo credit should read AHMAD GHARAB

Quietly and under the radar of the Israeli media, Knesset member Ahmad Tibi entered the holiest of holies of America’s most important strategic assets Feb. 4: Washington’s White House, State Department and Capitol Hill. As far as anyone can remember, no such meetings have been held in the past with such high echelons and such levels of intimacy between American administration sources and an Israeli Arab Knesset member. Tibi’s international status, his popularity in the Israeli Arab community and the conspicuous estrangement between the White House and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office were probably among the factors that contributed to the setting up of the meetings.

Tibi talked to his American interlocutors about the situation of Israeli Arabs, who constitute a minority of about 20% of the country’s population, and strongly condemned the policies of the Netanyahu government, which he called “Israel’s most extremist government of all times, to the extent that the most moderate person in it is Netanyahu himself.”

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