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Israeli mayor, councillors join Afula protest against sale of home to Palestinian family Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Israeli mayor, councillors join Afula protest against sale of home to Palestinian family

Members of Afula's council have stood by the desision to protest [AFP/ Illustrative image]

Date of publication: 16 June, 2019

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The mayor of an Israeli town and local councillors joined protesters on Saturday demonstrating against the sale of a house to a Palestinian family.
The mayor of a northern Israeli town on Saturday joined dozens of Jewish residents who protested against the sale of a house to a Palestinian family.

Avi Elkabetz, who is mayor of Afula, told Israeli daily Haaretz that his attendance was a private affair, despite going to the protest along with his deputy, Shlomo Malihi, and other members of the city council.

Elkabetz has participated in similar protests in the past, including during his campaigning when he demonstrated against the sale of homes in Afula to Palestinian citizens of Israel and ran under a slogan calling for the town to maintain its Jewish character.

Another council member, Itai Cohen, told Haaretz that he backed the protests and the movement to keep Palestinians from living in the area.

"We don't have a problem cooperating with Arab businesses, but we won't have them live here. We stand by the residents in this protest... Afula must remain a Jewish city,"  Cohen said.

Saturday's protest was organised on Facebook by a page entitled "Otzma Yehudit Afula," a name which makes reference to Jewish Power, a far-right Jewish nationalist party founded by followers of Rabbi Meir Kahane.

Kahane's Kach party was banned from the Israeli Parliament in the 1980s, and the US has classified Kahane's Jewish Defence League a terrorist group. In 2012, the US refused to give Ben Ari an entrance visa, saying he was involved in a terror organisation.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu struck a controversial election deal in February that would ensure members of Jewish Power a parliamentary seat in an effort to unite Israel's hard-line nationalist and religious bloc ahead of elections.

Palestinian citizens of Israel form around 20 percent of the population, the descendants of those who managed to stay during the mass displacement of the Nakba in 1948.

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