Haifa mayor demands deputy explain 'Zionism-ISIS' comparison

Amid pressure, Mayor Kalisch demands Hadash council member clarify his statements comparing terror groups to Zionism.

Tags: Mayor Haifa
Ido Ben Porat ,

Einat Kalisch
Einat Kalisch
Yonatan Zindel, Flash 90

Haifa Mayor Einat Kalisch-Rotem spoke with Raja Za'atara, a Hadash representative in the city council, and asked him to issue a statement in which he denies all the statements attributed to him.

Za'atara, who is to become deputy mayor, compared the Zionist movement to ISIS and refused to call Hezbollah a terrorist organization.

According to the report in Hahadashot, Kalisch told Za'atara, "I am under pressure and you have to clarify things, in this situation our coalition will not last for a week." Za'atara replied, "I plan a press conference."

Coalition chairman David Amsalem yesterday submitted a bill to prevent the appointment of Raja Za'atara as deputy mayor of Haifa. The bill says that a city council may not appoint a deputy mayor who expressed support for a terrorist organization. According to the bill, the interior minister may cancel such an appointment retrospectively, subject to a hearing.

Prime Minister Netanyahu said at a cabinet meeting on Monday that he asked Kalisch to "cancel the appointment of a deputy mayor who supports Hezbollah and Hamas," adding that he hoped Kalish would accept his request.

Za'atara himself refused to retract his remarks and claimed in an interview with Radio 103FM that "ISIS did ethnic cleansing and the Zionist movement did ethnic cleansing in 1948. I am not a member of neither Hamas nor Hezbollah, but of the Israeli Communist Party and the Hadash movement that advocates peace, equality and the brotherhood of nations.”

"Netanyahu and his corrupt government are trying to divert public opinion. The real danger to the people of Israel is not in the municipality of Haifa, but on 10 Balfour Street in Jerusalem. When I am a deputy, it is reasonable to assume that Netanyahu and Deri will already be in prison," he said.