MK Zahava Gal-On (Meretz ) yesterday asked the attorney general to weigh in on whether Upper Nazareth Mayor Shimon Gapso should be allowed to remain in office in light of remarks he made to a local Arabic-language weekly. Gapso told the paper that if he had been present during the October 2000 clashes between Israeli Arabs and police, more Arabs would have been killed.

He also said his city would never become a mixed Arab-Jewish city, although 16 percent of its residents were Arab, and that a mosque would never go up in his city.

"The picture emerges of a mayor in Israel leading racist policies in broad daylight, who does not hesitate to intentionally harm the most basic rights of citizens dependent on him for education and religious services," Gal-On wrote to Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein.

She reminded Weinstein that in 2008, his predecessor, Menachem Mazuz, had disqualified the mayor of Ramle, Yoel Lavi, as a candidate for head of the Israel Lands Administration for making racist remarks against Ramle's Arab population.

Arab lawmakers also called for Gapso's dismissal, with MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta'al ) commenting that Gapso's statements "proved why we are unwilling to accept the definition [of Israel] as a Jewish state."

MK Afou Agbaria (Hadash ), who heads the Knesset anti-racism caucus, said racism was spreading from cabinet ministers to mayors.

Mohammad Darawshe, co-executive director of the coexistence organization the Abraham Fund, said: "To speak in military terms about Arab citizens is the antithesis of neighborliness and mutual respect."