A massive sign showing the Palestinian and Israeli flags was removed on Wednesday from an office building overlooking a major Tel Aviv highway, after police warned its management the billboard might spark violent reactions.
The sign, which bore the slogan "We are destined to live together," was funded by Mehazkim, a left-wing, liberal digital movement. It was put up earlier on Wednesday, just hours before it was eventually removed.
It was draped on an office building front in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan and could be seen from a distance.
Ramat Gan mayor publicly rejected the initiative, taking to Facebook to say that his city will put up "huge Israeli flags and flags saluting the Israel Defense Forces, the Shin Bet, Israel Police and Border Police" in response.
Mayor Carmel Shama Hacohen added that he asked the CEO of Migdal, an insurance firm that owns the building, to have the sign removed. “I’m working in creative ways and with determination to deal with the problem,” he said.
However, Ramat Gan Deputy Mayor Roy Barzilai condemned the decision to remove the flags, saying it "is unfortunate that ignorance and religious hostility dictate the sane majority. The flag war is unnecessary and this time, childishness has prevailed."
National politicians also weighed in. Likud, led by opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, said the party is against it, urging Shama Hacohen to "remove this disgrace."
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Police officers came to the building and warned the management that there was a “fear of disturbances” by protestors, and as a result the decision was made to take down the sign.
Ori Kol, Mehazkim's CEO, said: "The sign may have been removed, but there are still two peoples living in here, and Jews and Arabs who will continue fighting together for a shared future. This sign is just the beginning.”
Recently, Israeli politicians and figures have cracked down on the waving of Palestinian flags, which is legal. A bill that would ban “the waving of the flag of an enemy country or of the Palestinian Authority, at institutions supported by the state,” including universities, is expected to be brought for preliminary vote on Wednesday.
The vote follows outcry over a Nakba Day rally at Ben Gurion University in Be'er Sheva, where students waved Palestinian flags. Last month, police were ordered to prevent the waving of Palestinian flags and to confiscate any Palestinian flags they saw during the funeral of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.