New York City councilman under fire over comments about Palestine

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- A New York City councilman is under fire over comments he's made on social media regarding the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

Kalman Yeger, a councilman from Brooklyn tweeted, "Palestine does not exist, sparking outrage and a protest that was held in Times Square Friday afternoon.

"What message does this give our elected officials other than Palestinians don't exist?" an activist said at the rally.

The councilman has been roundly criticized for many of his social media posts, which include comments such as, "Poor Bernie Sanders doesn't know there's no such thing as Palestine" and "No worries, Mr. Baird, (a reference to Canadian Politician John Baird) there's no such thing as Palestine. You're always welcome in Israel."

Many Palestinians say his comments are reprehensible and dangerous.

"A two-state solution is the best hope for peace," Mayor Bill de Blasio wrote on Twitter. "I challenge anyone who thinks the State of Israel shouldn't exist. But the same goes for anyone who would deny Palestinians a home."

Councilman Yeger currently sits on the New York City Immigration Committee.

He has turned down requests for an interview, and as of Thursday, he said he will not apologize.

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson issued the following statement:

"I strongly condemn Council Member Kalman Yeger's statement. His comments are dehumanizing and divisive, and his comments have no place in New York City, which is the proud home of many, many Palestinians. I am also a strong supporter of the two-state solution that respects the dignity of both Palestinians and Israelis. I am having internal discussions with Chair Carlos Menchaca and colleagues about Council Member Yeger's future on the Council's Immigration Committee. When a decision is made on that, we will have more to say. That decision must be made by the body as a whole. But I personally feel the Council Member's comments are unacceptable, and I do not feel comfortable having someone that holds those viewpoints on a committee that's supposed to welcome all immigrants. The Council should reflect the acceptance and melting pot of our great city, and as Speaker, I will continue to work against anything that disrupts our peaceful diversity."

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