The mayor of Umm al-Fahm, the hometown of two Arab assailants who killed two Border Police officers in a shooting attack in Hadera this week, resigned on live television Thursday after the city issued a statement of condolences to the families of the attackers, only to walk back his resignation hours later.
The statement of condolences was retracted about an hour after it was posted on Facebook.
Mayor Samir Mahameed told Kan public broadcaster that the post "was issued by mistake, and it shouldn't have happened."
"I understand all those who are angry… I take full responsibility, and if I have to resign I will… If good will come out of my resignation I will resign." Pressed by the interviewer, Mahameed clarified that he was "announcing my resignation. I'm leaving this position with great pain."
Later on Thursday, the mayor announced he will be staying in his position.
Mahemeed, 58, has a Ph.D in genetic engineering in plants, and has primarily served as an educator. He ran for mayor in 2018, gaining a relative advantage over his competitors by securing the backing of the Islamic Movement, which has wielded significant influence in the city for decades.
Retracting his intention to resign, the mayor clarified that "We condemn the crime committed in Hadera," adding that he has been promoting tolerance and shared existence with the Jewish society in his time as mayor. "I've issued a clear condemnation from the first moment."
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This isn't the first time Mahameed has gone back on an announcement of resignation. In January 2021, he announced he would be resigning due to what he said was the "loss of personal security" in Umm al-Fahm following a series of murders in the city. However, after coming under pressure from his supporters, he never resigned, and many saw his announcement on Thursday as another idle threat.
In the original statement, the Umm al-Fahm council said the mayor and the municipality's employees are "saddened by the death" of Ibrahim and Ayman Agbarieh. Ibrahim, according to Israeli officials, had tried to join the Islamic State.
Before the mayor announced his resignation, the municipality issued another statement on its Facebook page, which said the initial post "wasn't approved, and does not reflect the mayor's opinions or those of any other city officials. This is a serious mistake, which we regret."
The post "does not represent Umm al-Fahm, its municipality or its residents," the municipality added. "The mayor and the whole city came out with strong messages opposing any violence, let alone murder of innocent people or support for ISIS. We share the pain felt by the victims' families and send our deepest condolences."
The original post was removed shortly after it was published, and the municipality said the statement wasn't coordinated with Mayor Mahameed. According to the Interior Ministry, its director general ordered the mayor to remove it, following a request by Minister Ayelet Shaked.
The original statement said that they send their “honest and righteous condolences to the family,” and that “We hope that Allah will have mercy on them and forgive them."
The municipality's media office claimed it was "a mistake by the PR firm" hired by it. "We thought issuing a statement of condolences was right, just like any case of death in Umm al-Fahm," the office added, "But the mayor ordered to remove it from the city's page without delay."
The Interior Ministry said it was "inconceivable that a municipality in Israel offer its condolences to terrorists' families. This is a disgraceful and shameful post."