Agreeing with former MK Yussuf Jubran (Joint List), State Attorney Avichai Mandelblit has declared that the affirmation taken by members of the Afula City Council that they would ensure the “Jewish character” of their city to be null and void, and is “racist” and “hurts the sensibilities of many Israelis.”
“The affirmation, taken in addition to the oath taken by city council members when they were sworn in, should be canceled, and City Council members should have been required to be sworn in again,” Jubran said in his complaint. “The affirmation is racist and legally void. It is clear that this affirmation was taken against the Arab minority, and that Afula is encouraging hatred and incitement. This must be destroyed from its root.”
The affirmation dates back to last October, when the new City Council took office after municipal elections. At its first meeting, the council adopted the affirmation, requiring all members of the council to accept it. The issue of the Jewish character of Afula figured strongly in the election, as there had been several incidents of Arabs buying homes in the city, and many complaints by city residents that Arabs from surrounding villages were “invading” the city’s public spaces. At one point, Afula Mayor Avi Elkabetz sought to ban all nonresidents from Afula’s parks.
Jubran took it upon himself to complain about the affirmation. In response, the Afula municipality said that there was nothing wrong with seeking to preserve the rights of residents, even if they happen to be Jewish, and that its stance was backed by the Interior Ministry.
Mandelblit accepted Jubran’s complaint, but decided not to require council members to be sworn in again. With that, he instructed them to dismiss and ignore the affirmation.
The municipality said in a statement that the affirmation was backed by all members of the council, and that the city “will not allow the efforts of Arab and leftist MKs to change the Jewish character of the city.”