(photo credit: REUTERS)
Deputy Transportation Minister Tzipi Hotovely on Wednesday called upon Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to fire Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) head Yoram Cohen for denying that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was intentionally inciting terrorism and for coming out against MKs who ascend the Temple Mount.
At a closed-door meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Cohen said Abbas and the Palestinian leadership had no interest in encouraging terrorism and that he was not inciting violence.
But some could interpret Abbas’s statements as encouragement to terrorists, he added.
When Netanyahu was asked at a Jerusalem press conference on Tuesday about what Cohen said, he focused on the second part of his statement, downplayed the first and said there was no dispute between him and the Shin Bet chief.
Hotovely, who has made two high-profile visits to the Temple Mount, said Cohen harmed Israel by making both statements.
“The statement about Abbas is simply not right and harmed the united front displayed by the prime minister and defense minister blaming Abbas,” she said Wednesday night.
Cohen was unfit to continue in his post because his statements could be interpreted as excuses for Palestinian violence, Hotovely told Israel Radio earlier. She would continue to ascend the Temple Mount, she said.
“The Palestinian murders started much before other MKs and I went up on the Temple Mount,” Hotovely said. “If the Shin Bet chief wants to justify the slaughter of a three-month-old baby and falsely libel the Jews, it is better that he be removed from his job.”
Meretz MK Nitzan Horowitz, who is a member of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, responded by calling upon Netanyahu to fire Hotovely for attacking Cohen and ascending the Temple Mount.
“Hotovely incited and fanned the flames with her Temple Mount obsession,” he said.
“The Shin Bet chief warned correctly of the impact of such actions on the situation on the ground. Instead of easing the situation and stopping the escalation, she and her friends are only adding fuel to the fire.”Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.