Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
Haifa Mayor Einat Kalish-Rotem

Sources close to newly elected Haifa Mayor Einat Kalish-Rotem said on Tuesday that she decided to cancel the appointment of BDS activist Raja Za’tara from the largely-Arab Communist party Hadash as her deputy mayor.

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri on Friday called to reject Za’tara’s appointment, claiming that he supports Hezbollah and Hamas, has participated in a boycott of Israel and sided with actions against Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.


Kalish-Rotem met with Za’tara to share with him the pressure exerted on her because of his expected appointment. The mayor demanded that her future deputy at least deny the things attributed to him if he had not done them, and publicly condemn the accusations. But sources familiar with the details of the conversation said that Za’tara made it clear that he did not intend to apologize or express regret over his words or actions.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to the Za’tara appointment saying, “This is unacceptable and therefore will not take place, of that I am convinced.”

There are reports of an apparent arrangement whereby Za’tara would be replaced by the number two in his list, Shahira Shalabi, but it turns out that Shalabi holds similar anti-Israeli views.

During the 2014 Gaza War, she wrote posted on her Facebook page: “With spirit and blood we shall redeem Gaza,” and changed her profile picture to a pro-Gaza logo with the caption “Standing Together.” In another post, Shalabi encouraged the people of Gaza to “fight tanks with stones.” She also shared videos showing demonstrators waving Palestinian flags under the headline “Imagine the day the occupation ends.”