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Arab Knesset member ready for challenges of defense committee appointment

Arab Knesset member Issawi Frej is preparing for his appointment to the Israeli Knesset's prestigious Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, expecting criticism and skepticism from both Jews and Arabs alike.
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Meretz member Issawi Frej is expected to be appointed to the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in the next few days. He will replace Meretz Chair Zehava Gal-On, who resigned from the Knesset Oct. 22. Frej will be the third Arab Knesset member to serve on the prestigious committee. He is preceded by Taleb al-Sana of the Arab Democratic Party (Taal), who served in 2006, and Hashem Mahameed of the United Arab List (Ra'am), who served during the 15th Knesset, 1999-2003.

When Sana's appointment was approved in April 2006, he said, "Until now, we've been disqualified for racist reasons. This time, they ran out of excuses. It's important for them to hear other opinions, and we have [something] to say on this important committee." Sana lasted only a few weeks on the committee, resigning after the committee's chairman, Minister Yuval Steinitz, arranged to exclude him from discussions on sensitive topics.

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