In an unusual gesture of solidarity for Israel's 60th anniversary, villagers in one Arab-Israeli town have have painted the dome of their mosque in the national colors, blue and white.
The gesture in A-Taibeh, a village in the Galilee near the Gilboa, comes at a time when Arab-Jewish relations in the region have been marked by tensions, and many Israeli Arabs have vowed to boycott the anniversary celebrations and commemorations.
"We are residents of Israel. Our religion encourages love and closeness among nations. Jews, Muslims, we are all cousins, right?" A-Taibeh Mayor Hisham Zuabi was quoted as telling Maariv newspaper.
"We decided to paint the mosque's dome, the most important, dear, and holy site for us, in the national colors. We are all citizens of the state of Israel. As far as we are concerned, there is no difference here between Jews, Muslims, and Christians."
A-Taibeh, which sits adjacent to the moshav Moledet, has a population of about 2,000. Its newly decorated mosque has been in existence for decades.
Zuabi was quoted as saying that village residents don't fear criticism or threats because of their decision. Instead, they hope it will serve to unite Arabs and Jews. "The goal is purification, coexistence," said Zoabi. "A Jew who enters the mosque will not feel hostility, but rather will feel at home."