(JTA) — An Arab-Israeli ship captain said he is founding a Christian-Arab political party that will recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
Bashara Shlayan in announcing his party on Tuesday said it will urge Christian-Arab Israelis to serve in the army or perform civilian national service, according to a report.
Bnei Brit Hahadasha in Hebrew means both “new allies” and “children of the New Testament,”
Shlayan said the party is a response to current Arab-Israeli parties that do not meet the needs of Christian Arabs. Approximately 10 percent of Israel’s Arab citizens are Christian.
The Arab parties in the Knesset oppose Arabs serving in the Israel Defense Forces or in civilian service, and some of their members do not want Israel to remain a Jewish state. The new party, though, advocates allegiance to Israel as a Jewish state and participation in military or national service alongside most Jewish Israelis.
“You need to be like any citizen,” Shlayan said in one report. “If you were in America, you wouldn’t be an American? At least in Israel, those who stayed here have been given the right to be a citizen and to integrate. But Israel’s first demand, which I support — and which needs to be understood — is that Israel is the home of the Jewish people.”