Darawshe, Abdul Wahab (1943–)
DARAWSHE, ABDUL WAHAB (1943–)
Palestinian Israeli politician. Abdul Wahab Darawshe was born in 1943 in the village of Iksal in the Galilee. After graduating from Haifa University, he worked as a teacher. Darawshe was first elected to the Knesset in 1984 as a member of the Israel Labor Party, but he left Labor in January 1988 to protest the violent military response to the Intifada that had begun in the Occupied Territories in late 1987. Later in 1988, in association with members of local Arab councils, heads of religious communities, businessmen, and intellectuals, he established the Arab Democratic Party and was elected to the Knesset on its list in November.
Darawshe is regarded as a moderate whose primary political goals are peace between Palestinians and Israeli Jews, and equal rights for the Palestinian citizens of Israel. In October 1992, Darawshe went to Tunis to meet with Yasir Arafat, encouraging him to seek negotiations with Israel; in response, the Likud Party attempted to have Darawshe's parliamentary immunity lifted so he could be charged under antiterrorist laws. In 1997 he helped to arrange a meeting between Ariel Sharon, then a cabinet minister, and Mahmud Abbas, Arafat's deputy. In October 1998 he was among a group of Arab members of the Knesset who met with Egyptian president Husni Mubarak to discuss the peace process. The next year, Darawshe attempted to form an alliance with other Israeli Arab political parties in order to present a united list in the forthcoming elections, but was unable to do so.
In 1999, Darawshe resigned from the Knesset, but he has remained active in efforts to bring about peace negotiations. Late in 2001, in an attempt to stem the ongoing violence related to the al-Aqsa Intifada, he arranged for Israeli president Moshe Katsav to speak before the Palestinian parliament to express his "regrets" over the violence, after which all parties would be asked to agree to a cease-fire while Israel and the Palestinian Authority negotiated a "final status" agreement as envisioned in the Oslo Accords; the event was vetoed by Prime Minister Sharon. Darawshe is also a member of the International Alliance for Arab-Israeli Peace (the Copenhagen Group), which brings together prominent private citizens of Israel (both Jewish and Palestinian), Jordan, and Egypt.