Israeli council leader sued for saying Arabs should be barred from Jewish swimming pools

An Israeli politician is facing a lawsuit for saying Arabs should not be allowed to use public swimming pools used by Jewish Israeli citizens.

For his comments, Moti Dotan, the leader of Lower Galilee Council, Moti Dotan, is being sued for NIS 10 million (£2 million) by the Coalition against Racism.

The coalition claim the entire Arab population in Israel are eligible for compensation as a result of the potential discrimination at the council-run pools, Times of Israel reports.

Interviewed on Kol Chai radio station in July 28, Dotan said: “I don’t hate Arabs, but I don’t want them at my pools. I don’t go to their pools, either.”

He said he was not being being racist but said his views were a result of “cultural differences”  taking into account different clothing conventions and “hygiene cultures”.

Following the subsequent outcry, the local politician apologised on Facebook saying: “Yesterday during a radio broadcast I was asked about the homogenous population that patronises the pools in the council’s towns.

“In my response, I addressed the cultural differences between the populations and their conduct at the pool.

“Unfortunately, it’s possible that I was misunderstood, and may have had a slip of the tongue. In any case, I apologise to anyone who felt offended.”

His original comments were condemned by MK Youssef Jabareen from the Joint (Arab) List parliamentary faction, which has demanded Mr Dotan’s immediate resignation.

Mr Jabareen said in a statement: “The comments by the head of the Lower Galilee Regional Council are incitement to racism.

“In addition to being morally unacceptable, it is a criminal offense and I ask that the attorney general open a criminal investigation.”

Matt Payton