Haifa mayor, feeling pressure, confronts deputy over Hamas support

Haifa Mayor Einat Kalisch-Rotem demanded that her future deputy mayor publicly clarify statements he made in support of Hamas and Hezbollah.

By World Israel News Staff

Einat Kalisch-Rotem, the newly elected Haifa mayor, returned to work Tuesday after a Swiss holiday only to face tremendous pressure to dismiss her choice for deputy mayor, Raja Zaatry, the Mako news site reports.

Zaatry, although he will only take over as deputy mayor two-and a half years from now, has already created a national uproar over his comparison of Zionism to the Islamist group ISIS. He also supports BDS and reportedly has discouraged minorities in Israel from serving in the Israeli Army.

A member of the Arab communist party, Zaatry has also declared his support for terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah.

Mako reports that on Monday night, Kalisch-Rotem met with Zaatry and demanded that he clarify his position and declare publicly whether he continues to support Hamas or Hezbollah, as he made evident from his past statements.

‘Steamroller’

“There is tremendous pressure, not only in the Haifa public, but also on the national level,” Kalisch-Rotem told Zaatry, noting she she had been called by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin on the subject, Mako reports.

“I have a steam roller on me – the municipality fax machine can’t handle the condemnations, my phone broke from al the conversations and messages. I need you to go out in a press conference and clarify what you said and what your positions are,” Kalisch said according to Mako.

Kalish told Zaatry he needed to condemn the things attributed to him, or “our coalition in this situation will not last a week,” the report added.

Kalish hinted that some of the ministers or their emissaries hinted that she would be budgeted if the appointment was not canceled. News learned that two police cars were present at a meeting between the two in the Haifa municipality and security guards. Residents of Haifa organize protest demonstrations against the appointment and demand the resignation of Kalish.

Zaatry told the Mako news site of his talk with Kalisch, “I understood this to be a kind of ultimatum. I realize that I have to make a statement so that people will understand what I meant. I will make a decision on the matter with the party and the leadership. I will probably hold a press conference today or tomorrow.”