Likud MK Yoav Kisch has sent a letter to Israel’s Interior Minister Aryeh Deri asking him to reject the request authorizing a salary for new Deputy Haifa Mayor Raja Zaatry (Hadash). Kisch’s letter comes as the far-right racist backlash to Zaatry’s appointment continues to gain momentum. Zaatry, is the head of the Haifa branch of the Communist Party of Israel (CPI).
In his letter, Kisch wrote: “I call upon the interior minister to announce today that he will reject the request of Haifa Mayor Einat Kalish Rotem and not approve the salary for a fifth deputy mayor for the city Raja Zaatry.” In Israel, municipalities with populations of more than 250,000 residents are entitled to appoint a fifth deputy mayor, but the salary for this official must be approved by the Interior Minister.
Haifa Mayor Einat Kalisch Rotem aroused a storm of controversy when she announced her intention to appoint Zaatry to the city’s second-highest post instead of the Likud faction representative on the city council.
Following Rotem’s decision to appoint Zaatry, far-right MK Oded Forer (Yisrael Beytenu) submitted a bill to the Knesset that would disqualify the holding of a municipal administrative office by anyone who supports the struggle of the Palestinian people against the occupation in the West Bank and Gaza. “We will change the law so that it will not only prevent him and his ilk from running, but will also empower the interior minister to fire a council member who acts against the State of Israel,” Forer vowed.
Interior Minister and Shas party leader Aryeh Deri and said on Friday, December 7, that he will be examining whether he has the authority to prevent the head of the Haifa branch of the Communist Party of Israel from being appointed as a deputy mayor for the northern coastal city, and called Zaatry a “supporter of terror groups.”