Transportation Minister Israel Katz said on Sunday the government should ban the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel.
“Today I raised the issue of outlawing the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, led by Sheikh Raed Salah,” said Katz.
“The prime minister firmly supports my position,” Katz said and indicated that he had previously established a team to examine the issue.
Katz noted that alongside this, “the activities of the extremists need to be neutralized.”
However, lamented Katz, the Justice Ministry, led by Tzipi Livni, “opposes the initiative.”
“How absurd that in all of the countries in the region they are outlawed, but in Israel they incite and strive freely against the existence of the state,” he said. “We must put an end to it.”
Katz was referring to the moves by Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries to ban the Muslim Brotherhood, on which the Islamic Movement in Israel is based.
The Islamic Movement told The Jerusalem Post: “The Islamic Movement is rooted deeply in the Arab community.”
“We do not need any license from any Israeli side,” said its spokesman and lawyer, Zahy Nujeidat.
Katz has already raised the issue on a number of occasions, and the office of the transportation minister communicated to the Post that in private conversations with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu a few months ago, he had agreed and said the situation was indeed absurd.
Welfare and Social Services Minister Meir Cohen (Yesh Atid) had commented at the time that the Islamic Movement incites among the Beduin in the South and causes radicalization, which needs to be prevented, noted Katz’s office.
Katz’s proposal came up in the discussion over a Ministerial Committee for the Non-Jewish Sector, which was formed on Sunday, following a ministerial vote.
Netanyahu will lead the panel, and Science and Technology Minister Yaakov Peri (Yesh Atid) will be acting chairman.
The committee will deal with issues connected to the minority population in matters including employment, welfare, education, health and economic development. Its goal is to integrate non-Jewish citizens into society and the economy.
“The State of Israel should begin a real revolution in budgeting resources for the Arab population and act for full equality between all citizens of Israel - Arab and Jewish,” Peri said.
The minister called his new position an important one, which he plans to use to correct injustices toward the Israeli-Arab population.
“The great potential in the Arab population in Israel is priceless and the committee will make sure it comes to fruition,” Peri added.
Besides Katz, Livni and Cohen, the committee will also include Finance Minister Yair Lapid, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel, Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz, Education Minister Shai Piron, Tourism Minister Uzi Landau, Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar, Negev and Galilee Development Minister Silvan Shalom, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett and Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir.
Amnon Be’eri-Sulitzeanu, co-executive director of the Abraham Fund Initiatives, told the Post: “We welcome the decision of the government and we think it is an important move in the right direction.”
The important thing, he said, is that the committee will coordinate between all the government ministries and include Arab representatives from academia, MKs and so on.
The committee should avoid being dominated by Jews only, since it is not advisable to deal with the Arab sector without senior Arab leaders.
Asked about Katz’s initiative to ban the Islamic Movement, Be’eri-Sulitzeanu responded that “instead of taking unrealistic positions, the government should find ways to start a dialogue with the movement.”
“The Islamic Movement is part of Arab society,” even if the government does not agree with everything it says, he added, noting that such a ban “will not cause its support to disappear.”