Zionist Union head Isaac Herzog speaks to the press.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
A day after every party that could have potentially joined Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition declined, opposition party heads took turns Tuesday advising Netanyahu on what he should do to end the Palestinian wave of violence.
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog continued his recent rightward shift, calling for the prime minister to temporarily close the Temple Mount to all visitors, including elderly Muslims. He also called for a closure around Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem and an “aggressive war” against Palestinian incitement on Islamic Internet sites and social media.
“This situation has everything to do with the terrible incitement coming both from Islamic groups in Israel and the Palestinian Authority, claiming that Israel is trying to change the status quo on the Temple Mount and in Jerusalem,” Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid told the foreign press in a briefing organized by the Israel Project.
“I understand the deep religious meaning but Israel’s prime minister, president, government and opposition have declared that Israel hasn’t changed and won’t change the status quo on the Temple Mount.
“This is the result of social network incitement encouraged by the Palestinian Authority, which should take steps to tell their people that they know, and they do know, that there is no attempt to change the status quo on the Temple Mount and that this is incitement from Islamist groups. They should assure the people around them that this isn’t reality. It’s a positive step they could have taken days ago but they can and should do it now.”
Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman called upon the security cabinet to enact emergency laws for war, order police to kill all terrorists in every incident, and revoke residency permits of Jerusalem Arabs involved in terrorism. The demands were unlikely to be accepted despite a Channel 10 report that Netanyahu would shift his efforts from drafting the Zionist Union to join the government to persuading Yisrael Beytenu.
Army Radio revealed Tuesday that Netanyahu had scolded Likud MKs and banged on the table in Monday’s faction meeting behind closed doors.
“We are working hard and I am getting criticized from both sides,” Netanyahu told the MKs. “From the Left, I don’t mind being criticized, but from our team? I expect support and not games from people looking for votes.
Be leaders and stop playing games!” Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev (Likud) called for the government to stop paying for public defenders for certain terrorists for their legal representation in the trials against them.
Regev sent a letter on Monday to Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked recommending a change in the law to eliminate government financing for legal representation for defendants accused of terrorism- related crimes, though the letter was announced publicly only Tuesday.
The culture and sport minister portrayed the change as simply “another step” in tightening laws to fight and deter “the current wave of terrorism” confronting the country along with prior measures like “invalidating citizenship, eliminating financial benefits and house demolitions.”
Some terrorists have the funds or are provided funds by their terrorist groups to hire a private defense lawyer to defend them in court. But many others, especially those not connected to a specific group, like suspected criminals in many areas, do not have the funds to finance their defense.
In such cases, the state, as in most democratic countries, steps in and provides a public defender lawyer to defend the accused, whether for a minor crime or terrorism.
Regev said she “understands the importance of legal representation in a state of democratic rule, but terrorists should have to finance this with their private funds and not from the funds of the citizens of Israel who they themselves are trying to murder – this paradox must end.”