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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is demanding that the newly elected Mayor of Haifa, Einat Kalisch-Rotem, rescind her appointment of Communist Raja Zaatry as deputy mayor.
Mr Netanyahu asserted that Mr Zaatry “supports Hezbollah and Hamas, organisations that declare their wish to destroy the state of Israel,” adding: “I hope this request will be answered.”
Ms Kalisch-Rotem rejected Mr Netanyahu’s request and Mr Zaatry stood up against the PM and his far-right allies who also demand his removal.
“I am neither a member of Hezbollah nor Hamas but of the Communist Party of Israel and its Hadash front, which advocates peace, equality and fraternity between peoples,” he said.
"The real danger to Israel is not to be found at the Haifa municipality but at 10 Balfour Street [the Prime Minister’s residence in Jerusalem].
“By the time I become deputy mayor, Netanyahu and [Interior Minister Aryeh] Deri will probably be in prison,” said Zaatry in response. Police recommended recently that the two men be indicted on bribery, fraud and breach of public trust charges.
“I was democratically elected to the Haifa City Council. I will represent the Arab and Jewish residents of the city in order for them to live with dignity, true partnership, social justice and clean hands,” he declared.
“Only my voters and constituents can judge my actions. I intend to represent them and work for them, with or without pay.”
Protests against Mr Zaatry’s appointment were initiated by the fascist group Im Tirtzu and have been joined by right-wing Knesset members.
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