carmiel - Toemr Neuberg - January 16, 2009
Campaign signs of Adi Eldar for Mayor of Carmiel, January 16, 2009. Photo by Tomer Neuberg
Text size

Carmiel Mayor Adi Eldar yesterday announced that he fired his deputy and dissolved the coalition with his faction. The move followed Deputy Mayor Oren Milstein's discriminatory remarks and actions against Arabs over the past two years.

Milstein, who headed an independent list in the municipal elections, had objected to Arabs living in Carmiel and tried to prevent Israeli Arabs from renting or buying homes in the city. He also spoke about "preserving Carmiel's Jewish Zionist character."

Ironically, Milstein will be replaced by Rina Greenberg, a central activist of the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu party, headed by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

Sources close to Eldar told Haaretz that the mayor had already decided to fire Milstein weeks ago, but was prompted to do so yesterday thanks to the growing number of complaints filed against his deputy over the past two weeks.

Last week Haaretz reported on Milstein's efforts to ban Arabs from Carmiel. His campaign included taking out an ad in a local paper urging residents to e-mail anonymous information about apartments being rented or sold to Arabs.

Milstein denied having anything to do with the ad, saying he could not prevent Arabs from renting or buying homes in the city. But he said it was important to preserve the city's Jewish-Zionist character, and that Jews and Arabs should live beside each other, not together.

Milstein's comments evoked angry reactions from Arab mayors in the region, who demanded to meet with Eldar. The mayor put off the meeting until next week, presumably in order to announce Milstein's dismissal first, rather than being seen as having given in to the Arab mayors' demand.