Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is not behind the current wave of terrorism, but senior PA and Fatah officials are involved in the incitement that is fanning the violence, a Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) representative told the cabinet Sunday.
As part of a briefing to the cabinet on the security situation, the official said Abbas has instructed his security forces to prevent the violence as much as possible. The official added that most of the attacks have been carried out by individuals who are not connected to any organized terrorist group.
The official added that the Islamic Movement and Hamas were principally responsible for the incitement that has led to the current wave of terrorism, and that both groups rejected Israel’s existence.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened the security cabinet Sunday afternoon for the second time since the current wave of terrorism began to discuss outlawing the Islamic Movement.
After the meeting, the Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement saying that Netanyahu directed the relevant justice ministry officials to put together evidence that will enable the group to be outlawed.
Discussions have been going on at various levels for over a decade about outlawing the group.
Netanyahu repeated during the cabinet meeting what he has been saying for days, that the Islamic Movement – along with Hamas and the Palestinian Authority – are responsible for the current wave of terrorism because of their “systematic and mendacious incitement regarding the Temple Mount.”
Saying that he would not tolerate incitement “from within,” Netanyahu said the government would “use all means at our disposal against the instigators from any direction.”
In this regard, he said he asked Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein to open a criminal investigation against Joint List MK Haneen Zoabi for calling for a “popular intifada” against Israel.
Netanyahu quoted from an interview with Zoabi that appeared in the Hamas journal Al-Risala
“Hundreds of thousands of worshipers should go to Al-Aksa Mosque to stand up against Israel’s conspiracy to condone violence against east Jerusalem residents,” Netanyahu quoted Zoabi as saying.
“Today there are only actions of individuals, and what is needed is popular support,” Netanyahu read from a translation of the article. “If individual attacks continue without popular support, they will sputter out within a few days. Therefore the outpouring of thousands of our people will make these events a real intifada.”
Netanyahu called this “wild and deceitful incitement” a “clear call to violence.”
“This is serious and I will not ignore it,” he declared.
Zoabi responded afterward by saying: “I reject with disgust Mr. Netanyahu’s crazy words of incitement and of the Right that tries to trample everything in its way. [Netanyahu’s] speech demonstrates moral and political bankruptcy.”
Zoabi said currently there was no difference between Netanyahu and right-wing extremist bullies, and that she would not be deterred.
“What is happening now is that Netanyahu has turned a national conflict into a street fight and continues with his criminal and dangerous policy,” she said, before calling on Netanyahu and his government to resign.
During the cabinet meeting, Netanyahu made reference to his approval over the weekend of the mobilization of 16 Border Police companies, saying “it is preferable to mobilize a massive force early to deal with possible developments, rather than to do so after the fact.”
Outgoing acting police commissioner Bentzi Sau told the cabinet that recent government decisions have had an impact in bringing down the level of violence. He referred specifically to the approval of the use of the Ruger low-powered sniper rifle, which he said has significantly decreased the intensity and duration of riots, “and in many instances stopped them completely.”
He also that clarifying the rules of engagement for police, and allowing police to open fire if there is a danger to anyone – and not only to themselves – has enabled them to act “in a determined manner and immediately.”
The police have succeeded in significantly reducing the friction between the rioters and civilians, and now most of the confrontation is between the rioters and security forces, he said.
In a related development, the cabinet unanimously approved the proposal to impose minimum prison sentences on those who throw rocks, firebombs and fireworks, and to impose fines on minors and their parents.
Netanyahu said this was an “emergency measure” that – if need be – would be made “more severe.”Ariel Ben Solomon contributed to this report.