Shimon Gapso
Shimon Gapso. Photo by Tomer Appelbaum
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The mayor of Upper Nazareth told a Nazareth-based Arabic newspaper that his town will never be a mixed Arab-Jewish city, despite the fact that 16 percent of its residents are Arab.

In an interview on Friday, Mayor Shimon Gapso also told the weekly Kul al-Arab that a mosque would never be built in Upper Nazareth.

Gapso, whom police recommended in March be indicted for graft, told the weekly that if he had been present during the clashes in October 2000 between police and Arabs in northern Israel, "there would have been many more killed."

Gapso said he believed it was easier to "explain why I shot an innocent person" than to explain to the widow of a soldier serving under him why he had not properly protected that soldier.

Gapso said Upper Nazareth was "a city for Jews" and he wanted more Jews there.

According to Gapso, not only should no mosque ever be built in Upper Nazareth, but the mosques in Arab Nazareth should not have loudspeakers. "There is a difference between observing your religion and creating a provocation, and I'm going back to the matter of the noise of the mosques," he said.

Most of the Arab school children living in Upper Nazareth attend schools in Nazareth. However, in response to recent calls by Arab public figures to build an Arab public school in Upper Nazareth, Gapso told Kul al-Arab, "We will not build a school for Arabs if there is no need."

When asked about his comments in the Nazareth-based paper, Gapso told Haaretz that some of his statements, which he did not deny making, were taken out of context.

Two Arab city council members, Dr. Shukri Awawdeh and Dr. Riad Gatas, said Gapso made the remarks to conceal what they charged was his failure to run the city properly. They said they would call a meeting of opposition council members to ask the interior minister to dismiss Gapso.