Ahmed Dabah is expected to become Kadima’s first Arab MK, replacing Avi Dichter who resigned from the Knesset Tuesday to become home front defense minister.
Dichter called Dabah, 57, Kadima’s strongest Arab activist, on Monday night, to notify him that he would become an MK soon. The two wished each other luck in their new jobs.
Dabah brought Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz 1,121 votes from Deir-el-Assad – where he was mayor – in this year’s primary. Mofaz got more votes in the northern town than his and former party leader Tzipi Livni’s combined votes from Tel Aviv (1,112).
However, Dabah objects to being called a “vote contractor,” saying he is a public figure that the public trusts.
“I see my entrance to the Knesset as part of a national mission and a heavy responsibility,” Dabah said, adding that he has been in public service since he his 20s. Dabah described himself as serious, responsible and a successful businessman.
He also said he hopes to rebuild Kadima as a strong party, and expressed skepticism about the accuracy of polls predicting that the faction’s seats in the next Knesset will drop to a single digit, saying that the Kadima has over 100,000 members.
Dabah joined the Likud in 1992, and broke off from the party with former prime minister Ariel Sharon. Kadima insiders say he was placed high on Sharon’s never-published list for the 17th Knesset, but was pushed to the 51st spot by former prime minister Ehud Olmert.
Kadima’s list for the 18th Knesset had Dabah in the 36th spot. The faction has 28 seats in the Knesset, and Dabah is Kadima’s seventh replacement-MK since 2009.
Ze’ev Boim and Gideon Ezra passed away and were replaced by Doron Avital and Akram Hasson. Haim Ramon left the Knesset, bringing in Yulia Shamalov-Berkovich, as did Tzachi Hanegbi, whose place was taken by Nino Abesadze.
Eli Aflalo resigned from the Knesset and was replaced by Avi Duan, and Yuval Zellner was sworn in as an MK after former Kadima leader Tzipi Livni decided to take a break from politics.
Dabah’s swearing-in as an MK will make him the record-breaking 17th non-Jew in the current Knesset. MK Shakib Shanan (Independence) first broke the record in February, and Hasson brought the number to 16 in May.
Dabah has nine children, and owns a chain of supermarkets and a slaughterhouse. Formerly, he was not only the mayor of Deir-el- Assad, but also head of the Shagur Local Council.