Issawi Frej

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Issawi Frej
Issawi Frej.jpg
Ministerial roles
2021–Minister of Regional Cooperation
Faction represented in the Knesset
Personal details
Born (1963-12-14) 14 December 1963 (age 58)
Kafr Qasim, Israel

Issawi Frej (Arabic: عيساوي فريج, Hebrew: עִיסָאוּוִי פְרֵיג'; born 14 December 1963) is an Arab-Israeli politician who currently serves as a minister and was a member of the Knesset for Meretz in 2021 and was also an MK for the party between 2013 and 2019. As of June 2021, he is the Minister of Regional Cooperation. He is the second Muslim minister in Israeli history, after Raleb Majadle.


Frej was born in Kafr Qasim, Israel, to a Muslim-Arab family.[1] His grandfather was killed in the Kafr Qasim massacre,[2] Frej is the eldest of twelve children. In 1982, he began studying accounting and economics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and later worked as an accountant.[3] Whilst at university, he joined the joint Jewish-Arab "Campus" group, and subsequently joined the Ratz party, which later merged into Meretz. He served on the secretariat of Peace Now, and was involved in the Geneva Accord.

Frej is married, with seven children. They reside in Kafr Qasim.[3]

In February 2022, Frej was hospitalized in Tel Aviv after suffering a stroke.[4][5]

Political career[edit]

Frej first ran for the Knesset in 2003, and was placed sixteenth on the Meretz list for the elections that year.[6] However, the party won only six seats. For the 2006 elections, he was placed seventh,[7] but Meretz won only five seats. In the 2009 elections, he was placed ninth,[8] but again failed to win a seat, as Meretz was reduced to three MKs. However, after being placed fifth on the party's list for the 2013 elections,[9] he entered the Knesset, after the party won six seats. Frej was re-elected in the 2015 elections, after being placed third on the Meretz list.[10] He was fourth on the party's list for the April 2019 elections, and was re-elected as the party won four seats.

In June 2021, he joined the coalition government as the Minister of Regional Cooperation.[11] In July 2021, he resigned the Knesset under the Norwegian law.[12][13] He was succeeded by Ali Salalha.[12]

In October 2021, Frej met publicly with Nasredeen Abdulbari, then the Justice Minister of Sudan, one of the first public meetings between Israeli and Sudanese officials.[14][15]

In November 2021, Frej met with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh to discuss the financial and security relationship between Israel and the West Bank; after this meeting, Frej predicted that the Palestinian Authority would agree to stop paying monthly stipends to those who have been convicted of terrorism and to the families of terrorists who have killed Israelis.[16][17]

Political positions[edit]

Frej is a supporter of the two-state solution.[18]

Frej is a supporter of the Abraham Accords, stating that he believes the accords offer Israel chances for economic growth; he suggested that further countries would also sign treaties normalizing relations with Israel.[19][20]

On 1 February 2022 Frej rejected Amnesty International's charge that Israel is an apartheid state, saying: “Israel has many problems that must be solved, inside the Green Line and certainly in the occupied territories, but Israel is not an apartheid state."[21]


  1. ^ חירות גם לנשים הערביות Meretz Archived 14 October 2013[dead link]
  2. ^ Rivlin condemns ‘terrible crime’ of Kfar Kassem massacre The Times of Israel 26 October 2014.
  3. ^ a b Meet the new MK: Esawi Freige The Jerusalem Post, 30 January 2013
  4. ^ "Minister Frej Suffers Stroke, Admitted to ICU". Hamodia. Retrieved 11 February 2022.
  5. ^ "Minister Esawi Frej in ICU after stroke". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 2022-02-19.
  6. ^ Candidates for the 16th Knesset Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  7. ^ List of Candidates: Meretz Knesset website
  8. ^ Meretz Knesset website (in Hebrew)
  9. ^ Meretz Central Elections Committee (in Hebrew)
  10. ^ Meretz list Central Elections Committee
  11. ^ "Israel's 36th gov't: Here is the list of new cabinet ministers". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2021-06-15.
  12. ^ a b "MK Issawi Frej to resign from Meretz under Norwegian law". The Jerusalem Post. 2021-07-10. Retrieved 2021-07-21.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. ^ "13 New Israeli Lawmakers Sworn In, Including First Deaf MK". Haaretz. Retrieved 2022-02-19.
  14. ^ Odenheimer, Alisa (October 13, 2021). "Israeli Minister Tweets Rare Photo With Sudanese Official". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2022-02-19.
  15. ^ "Sudan: Burhan dismisses sanctions threats, lauds ties with Israel". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 2022-02-19.
  16. ^ "Palestinian Authority likely to abolish pay-for-slay, Frej says". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2022-02-19.
  17. ^ Boxerman, Aaron. "Minister Frej to sit down with PA prime minister in Norway". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 2022-02-19.
  18. ^ Kornbluh, Jacob. "Why an Arab in the Israeli government says he's OK with a delay in the peace process". The Forward. Retrieved 2022-02-19.
  19. ^ Rachman, Gideon (2021-10-25). "Israel breaks out of its global isolation". Financial Times. Retrieved 2022-02-19.
  20. ^ staff, T. O. I. "Minister predicts more normalization deals with Arab states next year". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 2022-02-19.
  21. ^ "Arab MK: Israel has many problems, but it is not an apartheid state". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 2022-02-19.

External links[edit]