Controversial Mayor: I’ll Keep My City Jewish

Nazareth Illit mayor reelected despite allegations of corruption, racism, and vows, ‘I’ll keep pushing to keep my city Jewish.’

Maayana Miskin ,

Shimon Gapso
Shimon Gapso
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Shimon Gapso, the Mayor of Natzrat Illit (Upper Nazareth), was reelected this week despite having been forced out of office in September over allegations of corruption.

“The public has spoken,” Gapso declared, speaking to Arutz Sheva. He has support from those in power as well, he added, “I got a lot of congratulations from ministers and MKs. All of them support me.”

He noted that Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein had recently determined that the bribery charge he faces “is not so serious.”

He revealed that even during the month in which he was barred from office, he continued to run the city via an unofficial “shadow office.”

Gapso declared that he plans to continue to openly campaign to keep Natzrat Illit a majority-Jewish city. “I’m going to keep working to ‘Judaize’ the city. I never stopped,” he said.

He expressed interest in creating a coalition with the Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) party, which obtained a seat on the city council in the elections.

Gapso has faced accusations of "racism" over his battle to keep Natzrat Illit Jewish despite a growing population influx from the nearby Arab city of Nazareth. In January, he issued a definitive refusal to allow a Muslim school to be established in his city.

Just weeks earlier, he had called on the government to declare Nazareth a “hostile element” and stop giving it state funds, due to a rally in the city – allegedly led by the mayor – in support of Hamas terrorists in Gaza.

The outspoken mayor flies the world’s largest Israeli flag over his home.

One month ago the High Court of Justice ruled that Gapso and a second mayor accused of corruption must step down due to the allegations against them. However, the court did not bar Gapso from seeking reelection, ruling that, “We could not see, from a legal perspective, a way to prevent such a candidacy.”

The court hinted that Gapso could be barred from office against following reelection, on the same grounds.