Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit opposes the Afula municipality’s decision to close the municipal park to non-residents (see: Afula Municipality Under Attack for Blocking Arab Invasion of New Park). On Thursday, he informed the Administrative Affairs Court in Nazareth that he would like to appear in support of a petition filed by the NGO Adalah against Afula. The petition claims that the real reason for the municipality’s decision is to prevent the entry of Arab residents from nearby communities.

Adalah’s stated goals are “achieving individual and collective rights of the Arab-Palestinian minority in Israel” and protecting “the human rights of Palestinians living under occupation, based on international humanitarian law and international human rights law.”

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Based on financial information submitted to the Israeli Registrar of Non-Profits, in accordance with the Israeli NGO transparency law, Adalah received $4.67 million from foreign governmental bodies from 2012-2018. In 2016 alone the group received $1.3 million. Its donors include: Switzerland (Federal Department of Foreign Affairs), European Union, Broederlijk Delen (Belgium), Bread for the World-EED (Germany), Oxfam Novib (Netherlands), Christian Aid (UK), UNDP, and Open Society Foundation (Source: NGO Monitor).

Nice friends you got there, Mr. Attorney General.

The attorney general wrote the court that the case raises “weighty questions about the nature of the motives behind the sweeping decision of the Afula municipality to close the park.” He added that the decision to enter urban parks, which are common public spaces, cannot be based on considerations of race, religion, nationality, country of origin, sex, sexual orientation or any other inherent characteristic, stressing that a decision that was ostensibly made on the basis of one of these considerations is totally unacceptable and should be annulled.

The municipality’s decision came after Mayor Avi Elkabetz promised in his election campaign that he would prevent residents of Arab communities from entering the park, declaring, “The occupation of Afula’s municipal park must be stopped.”

The mayor wrote on his Facebook page last year: “It’s not a political issue, it’s not an election issue, it’s just something essential and fundamental: a park built for the residents of Afula should remain their own. Today, after other cities have been able to significantly reduce nonresident entry into municipal parks, the same can be done in Afula despite the legal difficulties.”

Maybe. Maybe not.

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