Interim injunction for the hearing of Tiberias mayor

Former Tiberias mayor, Yossi Ben-David expresses harsh criticism of Ron Kobi in an interview with Arutz Sheva.

Arutz Sheva Staff,

Ron Kobi
Ron Kobi
Credit: David Cohen/ Flash 90

The Supreme Court of Justice issued an interim injunction against holding a hearing for the removal of the mayor of Tiberias, Ron Kobi.

According to the decision, the hearing will be held only after a discussion on the matter in the Supreme Court, to be held no later than July 31.

A week ago members of the Tiberias city council voted against the municipal budget proposal for 2019 submitted by Mayor Kobi and as a result, the council was dissolved. Kobi had two chances to pass the budget, and both failed. Meanwhile, Kobi has announced he is running for the 22nd Knesset as the head of the Secular Right.

Former mayor of Tiberias, Yossi Ben-David, who lost his position to Ron Kobi, expressed harsh criticism of Kobi in an interview with Arutz Sheva.

At the beginning of the conversation, Ben-David mentioned that he served for five years as mayor with only two council members from his party, but Kobi had "unusual opening conditions for the establishment of a coalition with the six seats he received and another one which joined him, which meant he had seven out of fifteen seats so he only needed one more to form a coalition."

"From the moment a mayor is elected, he has to form a coalition, approve a budget, delegate authority and manage the city. He didn't do this. He thought he was omnipotent, and time and time again he brought non-serious budget proposals that did not reflect the reality and the proposals were rejected by the majority. I am one council member out of nine others who voted against the budget. He did not provide professional explanations, and when he was asked professional questions, he attacked the council members on a personal level. Where is there a mayor in the country who, half a year after the election, announces that he's running for Knesset? This means that this is a mayor who didn't put Tiberias at the top of his list of priorities and found it necessary to conduct a campaign against government ministries. What is important to him is to be a media star in the studios and live broadcasts and to promote a personal agenda."

"When an elected public official puts his personal desires before the interests of the city he is supposed to serve, this is the result and the end is known in advance. In 71 years there has never been a government- appointed committee running Tiberias and the first one to bring us to this is Ron Kobi," Ben-David says, noting that Kobi is the only one who could prevent the arrival of a government-appointed committee by resigning from his position, especially if he is already planning to run for a position in the next Knesset.

As for Kobi's claims that Interior Minister Aryeh Deri is behind the move against him because of the anti-haredi agenda he is trying to promote, Ben-David says: "These are his arguments. He claimed many arguments during my tenure as mayor and during my predecessor's term. I'll tell you this - I am a tradition respecting secular Jew and in my eyes, the respect I learned in my state-religious school and Bnei Akiva are the foundations I received as a child, and I will continue to respect rabbis and stand respectfully when a great rabbi is standing in front of me. I won't change this and it doesn't matter if I'm the mayor or a council member. This is the education I received and I'll transmit to the next generation. He had a crazy campaign against the haredi public and then against the Religious Zionist public. Everyone is shocked and horrified by these statements. He attacks the haredim and religious people on live broadcasts on Shabbat when they can't answer him. Everyone now sees it."

"You want to be a member of the Knesset, return the mandate to the public and take care of the residents and the children instead of lashing out at the government ministers. Worry about bringing money into the city, because when you don't bring in money there is loss of income and damage, and there is no alternative to raising municipal taxes for residents and requiring business owners to dispose of their garbage themselves. As a mayor, you are the mayor of everyone and it doesn't matter what you think of this or that community. This is the basis of the agreement based on trust between the electorate and elected officials."

In Ben-David's opinion, what is leading to Kobi's apparent ousting is the conduct in which, according to Ben-David, the basic agreement between Kobi and his voters does not exist. "I have been hurt by him, my family and many people in the city. Today they see what his campaign is. He attacks the minister [of Interior Aryeh Deri] and claims that the minister can not discuss his case because he has a personal interest. So who will discuss it? The Health Minister? The Agriculture Minister? This is the job of the Interior Ministry."

"There is no reason to accuse Aryeh Deri of interfering with the council. It's irrelevant. I didn't vote for Shas and I have worked with four interior ministers, Gideon Sa'ar, Gilad Erdan, Silvan Shalom and the last two years with Aryeh Deri, but the work is professional - to help Tiberias cope with the economic crisis. We lowered the deficit by over 100 million shekels, we returned loans and brought an unprecedented building momentum and investments in education. All these disappeared as a result of inappropriate and irresponsible conduct."

On the claims of Kobi, according to which the half-year 2019 balance sheet saved the municipal treasury NIS 5 million, Ben-David says that the sums were saved as a result of cuts in cultural projects for the benefit of the residents such as Purim and Independence Day events and investment in education. "Is that an achievement? Instead of working to increase revenues, bring projects and resources from government offices? You didn't do your job, and you were all over the world, running to television studios instead of doing the job of a mayor, walking between government offices and sleeping there. I spent nights at the Ministry of Finance and the Interior Ministry to get another million or two for investment in education and the promotion of city building plans."

In Ben-David's opinion, Ron Kobi's behavior is based on his lack of familiarity with the work required for the position of mayor. "Sometimes I was embarrassed at council meetings because of what he didn't know. When you have the media and Facebook repeat lies time after time and repeat the biased data in favor of his goals as much as he wants, you understand that he turned the council members into spectators at the play he directed instead of doing what is important - managing the city for the benefit of the residents."

"In my five years as mayor, I wasn't perfect and there are things that need fixingx, but I faced a deficit that was two times what he inherited. I was elected with two seats and he had six seats and he only had to add one. I can't even think about what I could have done if I had had six mandates."

So what happened to the residents of Tiberias when they chose Kobi? They didn't understand all this? "It was a mishap that today most of the residents of Tiberias understand. He took advantage of the democratic process to lash out at the easiest targert, the haredi public. He scared the secular public with talk about a 50% haredi takeover, and only after he was elected did they realize that it's only 20%, and they also need education and neighborhoods and garbage disposal."

"My children go to school here, his do not. I am a Tiberias resident even before I am a mayor or a former council member. This city deserves more than the hatred and incitement it has experienced in recent months. I very much hope that in the end, quiet will return to this city, which is an example of tolerance. He boasts of opening businesses on Saturday but these businesses are open as part of the status quo that existed in the past. I didn't think it was right to use it for defiance. In Tiberias, the Supermarket Law did not apply. I was dissatisfied with this as mayor. We have a status quo system."

And what about his future plans? Is he going to run again for mayor? Ben-David replies that for the time being an external committee is expected to be appointed and that no elections will be held in the near future. "I have no obsession. I served this city faithfully in the past and that's what is important to me. It's important to me that a committee be appointed here that will properly manage the city for the residents, and that the education I have invested in and the welfare and improvements in which we have invested here will continue."

"I did what I did faithfully. I accepted the results of the elections faithfully. I don't know what the coming day will bring. There is another Supreme Court petition that was submitted and there is another hearing. And the Supreme Court justices will have to make a decision, and so will the Interior Ministry. I hope that Tiberias will return to the sanity and quiet that it knew and that the residents will receive what they deserve."