Masalha, Nawaf

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Israeli Arab politician, born in November 1943, at Kufr Qara, Palestine.

After studying to be a teacher, Nawaf Masalha joined the Israeli Labor confederation, Histadrut, where he quickly became a member of the central committee and head of the Arab section. In the elections of 1988, he was elected as a Labor Party member and deputy speaker of the Knesset. Re-elected a Labor MK in June 1992, he joined the government of Yitzhak Rabin the following 3 August as a deputy minister of health. In May 1996, after the Right was returned to power, he was again appointed deputy speaker of the Knesset. On 5 August 1999, he was named deputy-foreign minister under David Levy in the government of Ehud Barak, the first appointment of an Israeli Arab to this post. In the Knesset he also sat on the powerful foreign affairs and defense committees.

Masalha gave up his seat in the Knesset in 2003. He has been an ardent defender of equal rights for Israeli Arabs and joined with like-minded Israeli Jews in supporting initiatives for Arab-Israeli peace.

SEE ALSO Barak, Ehud;Histadrut;Knesset;Levy, David;Rabin, Yitzhak.