Netanyahu to Haifa Mayor: Cancel appointment of Muslim deputy who supports Hezbollah and Hamas

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized Sunday the appointment of Muslim terrorism-sympathizer Raja Za’atra as Haifa’s deputy mayor after the candidate has repeatedly said Hamas and Hezbollah should not be considered terrorist groups.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks this morning at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting.

Operation Northern Shield is continuing. IDF soldiers are working methodically and decisively around the clock, even in inclement weather, to expose and neutralize tunnel after tunnel.

We need patience, but with the same perseverance, we will continue the operation until its conclusion – until the tunnel threat in the north is neutralized. At the same time, we are working in the intelligence sphere in order to denounce Hezbollah and Iran and to increase sanctions against both of them.

I spoke yesterday with Russian President Vladimir Putin. We agreed that the IDF and Russian military coordination delegations will meet soon, hopefully in the coming days, apparently in Moscow. President Putin and I will meet later on. This is in continuation of the very important talk we had in Paris, in order to ensure the continuation of the orderly coordination between the Russian military and the IDF, which has been maintained for several years now.

I told President Putin that we are continuing our policy: We will not allow Iran to establish a military presence in Syria. We will continue to take action against the precision weapons in Lebanon, and we will complete the operation to foil the tunnels threat.

This morning before the meeting, I sought out Haifa Mayor Einat Kalisch in order to ask her to cancel the appointment of a deputy mayor who supports Hezbollah and Hamas, which have declared their intention to destroy the State of Israel. I hope that she will respond. I am pleased that our colleague [Interior Minister] Aryeh Deri has already begun to deal with the matter and I know that many others have also expressed their views. This is unacceptable; therefore, I am convinced that it will not happen.”


“Raja Za’atra, a member of the Haifa city council, has expressed support for Hezbollah and Hamas, has supported boycotts of Israel and action against Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. Such a person cannot be named as a deputy mayor as Haifa’s mayor seeks to do,” Interior Minister Arye Dery tweeted.

Dery has asked his legal adviser about the issue. Za’atra was elected in October’s local elections as a member of the Haifa Front, an ultra-leftist pro-Communist party. According to the coalition agreement he is to serve as a deputy mayor during the second half of the new mayor’s term.