Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a cabinet meeting, December 9th, 2018.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will push for the immediate passage of a new bill intended to prevent the appointment of a deputy mayor who supports terrorist groups, coalition chairman David Amsalem said on Monday.
The bill is intended to stop new Haifa mayor Einat Kalisch Rotem from appointing Raja Za’atra, a veteran activist and former spokesman for the Hadash party, who has defended Hamas and Hezbollah and compared Zionism to Nazism and the Islamic State.
The legislation would prevent a city council from approving the appointment of a deputy mayor, who has expressed his support for groups deemed terror organizations by the state as well as permit the interior minister to cancel appointment if it is approved anyway.
“I will pass the bill quickly to remove the State of Israel’s shame,” Amsalem said.
The appointment by Haifa mayor Einat Kalisch Rotem was also criticized on Monday by President Reuven Rivlin.
On October 30, Kalisch Rotem was elected mayor with the backing of the Labor Party. She has defended signing a coalition agreement with Za’atra’s party.
Labor MK Eitan Broshi called upon party leader Avi Gabbay to distance Labor from Kalish Rotem if she does not break the coalition agreement. He said if Labor does not do that, it would be “another nail in Labor’s coffin.”
Gabbay told his Zionist Union faction on Monday that he opposed the appointment. But he said that he understood Kalisch Rotem’s predicament. Gabbay added that Netanyahu could not oppose the appointment of a terrorist supporter at a time when Israel is facilitating the transfer of Qatari money to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
Joint List MK Aida Touma Suleiman, who has worked closely with Za’atra, said Gabbay should give Za’atra his support “against the incitement of Netanyahu and – Yesh Atid leader Yair] Lapid.
Meretz leader Tamar Zandberg said the Za’atra incident had proven that Kalisch Rotem belongs in Meretz, not in Labor.
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