Taiba residents angered over new Jewish mayor

MK Ahmed Tibi (UAL), a resident of Taiba, expresses his rejection of "bizarre" appointment.

israeli arab 88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
israeli arab 88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Shlomo Tuizer - the former head of the Beersheba prison, which has served as the basis for the prison drama Zinzana - entered his new position on Sunday as the Jewish mayor of the Arab town of Taiba, despite objections from citizens and Arab MKs. Tuizer was appointed to the post last week by Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit, who ordered the dismissal of several Arab municipalities. Sheetrit recently decided to appoint a committee, led by Tuizer, to replace the existing leadership in the area of Taiba due to rampant financial mismanagement. He did the same in four other Arab towns. The committee's goals are to balance the debts Taiba's mismanagement has caused and to put it back on a positive financial track after the town's deficit reached NIS 200 million. MK Ahmed Tibi (UAL), a resident of Taiba, expressed his rejection last week of the "bizarre" appointment, and said that this was a shady plan meant to "set up a job for Shlomo Tuizer." Tibi called Tuizer a "right-wing activist" and noted that in 2003, Tuizer had joined the Israel Beiteinu Party, whose agenda had previously supported handing Taiba over to the Palestinian Authority. On Saturday evening, thousands gathered in the town, which is near the central city of Kfar Saba, in protest of the Interior Ministry's decision. Arab MKs called to reverse the decision, calling it racist and likening it to martial law. Tuizer told The Jerusalem Post that he had never been a candidate for an MK position or a member of Israel Beiteinu, Kadima or any other party. "I helped [Israel Beiteinu chairman] Avigdor Lieberman during the elections of 2003, but that doesn't mean anything. I never joined any party. I am not a politician. Right now, I am a Taiba man, and I will work and act for the benefit of the residents. I have had some difficult jobs in my life, and I have always acted for the good of the people. I intend to work for that town, because they deserve education and clean streets just like any other Israeli citizen. The organizers of yesterday's demonstration didn't expect it to be so minor and small. I came here today expecting to encounter opponents waiting for me, but instead I was welcomed with kisses, hugs and greetings," Tuizer said. The Interior Ministry said in response that this appointment was strictly professional and had no hidden political agenda. "The Interior Ministry is sorry that mayors who didn't succeed in doing their job put the blame on irrelevant causes," the ministry said.