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At swearing-in ceremony, Israel councillors pledge to keep city Jewish

Afula City Hall in 2010 [Wikipedia]
Afula City Hall in 2010 [Almog/Wikipedia]

Israeli councillors sworn in on Thursday pledged to preserve Afula "as a Jewish city", reported Haaretz.

Members of Afula City Council "swore allegiance to the State of Israel and its laws, as stipulated by law, but then also promised to preserve the Jewish character of Afula as well as the religious status quo in the city", the paper added.

"It was very touching, and it is a legitimate right," said Itai Cohen, a city council member from the Habayit Hahevratit (Social Home) faction.

"We must proudly identify with the State of Israel, its values, its Declaration of Independence," said Cohen, who "in the past was one of the leaders of the protests after all of the successful bidders for the purchase of dozens of lots in 2015 sold through a public bidding process were Arab."

READ: Israel protests against sale of home to non-Jewish citizens

The councillor also told Haaretz that "if there is something inappropriate about calling Afula a Jewish city, then I need to pack my bag and move abroad. The State of Israel was carved in blood, its values and Jewishness."

Meanwhile, Avi Elkabetz, the new mayor of Afula, who according to Haaretz "was elected last month after running a campaign promising residents to preserve the Jewish character of the city", closed Afula's municipal park to non-residents last Saturday.

In August, as part of his election campaign, Elkabetz wrote on Facebook: "The occupation of the municipal park must end. It is not a political issue. It is not an election issue. It is simply a fundamental matter of principle. A park that was built for the residents of Afula needs to remain theirs…We must proudly wave Israeli flags through the entire park and play music in Hebrew."

READ: Netanyahu urges coalition partners not to bring down government

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