A Likud lawmaker branded the chief of the Jerusalem police force “a coward” for his handling of the continued rioting in the predominantly Arab areas of east Jerusalem, Israel Radio reported on Friday.
MK Miri Regev, who is chairwoman of the Internal Affairs and Environment Committee, is reported to have made the remark during a conversation with the head of the Jerusalem district police, Asst.-Ch. Yossi Pariente.
Israel Radio obtained a recording of the conversation, in which Regev is heard saying that the police need to “hit the rioters hard.”
Pariente took issue with Regev’s earlier comments suggesting that the police were seeking to do their utmost in avoiding contact with the rioters, the implication being that officers’ leniency was encouraging violence.
According to Israel Radio, the two spoke during the Knesset panel’s tour of riot-hit areas of east Jerusalem.
In response to the report, Regev said that her remarks were misconstrued and that the comment was made in a “light, friendly tone” during a conversation with the Jerusalem police chief. Regev said the conversation was recorded without the consent of both parties.
The MK, whose blunt manner of speaking has made her no stranger to controversy, went on to praise the Jerusalem commander and his police force for their work in combating the rioters and restoring security to the capital.
Regev’s remarks drew criticism from MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al), who called her “a pyromaniac who is doing all in her power to ignite the situation on the ground.” Tibi accused the Jerusalem police of brutality against the Arab population in east Jerusalem.