MK Abas Zkoor (United Arab List-Ta'al) on Wednesday announced the establishment of a new Arab party: Al-Wasat Al-Arabi (The Arab Center.)
Zkoor, who presented the new party during a press conference in Akko, told Ynet about the change he hopes to generate. "For the first time there will be an Arab party that takes care of the citizen and his hardships," he said.
"It is not our job to occupy ourselves with the issues of the Palestinian people and the Arab world at the expense of 1.3 million Arabs who live in Israel," Zkoor added.
MK Zkoor served in the Knesset on behalf of the Islamic Movement's southern branch, but after a dispute broke with the head of the branch, MK Ibrahim Sarsur, four months ago the former announced his intention to break away from the party.
In an interview with Ynet held after the announcement Zkoor said, "The Arabs in Israel have no mother and father, and it's time a party was established including members from all sects that will place the citizen at the top of its priorities."
Zkoor said his party would focus on solving issues of education, infrastructure, industry, and poverty. "The social foundation is what concerns us, and it is our number one priority," he said.
"The Arab population in Israel is not receiving attention from the Palestinian leadership or the Arab and Islamic world. On the other hand it fails to be granted rights from the Israeli government. It's time we thought of ourselves and took care of our future."
Zkoor stressed the importance of distinguishing the Israeli Arab population from the Palestinian people and the Arab nations. "We live in Israel and we have to think about our future here," he added.
In relation to this statement, Zkoor said it would be important for his party to join the coalition. "We would be delighted to be part of any leftist government that supports peace," he said.
Zkoor, who was a senior member of the Islamic Movement, believes his party can seize a substantial number of its voters. He said several movement members have already expressed interest in the party, including a few sheiks who serve as village heads. He believes the party will receive up to four mandates in the coming election.