Israeli Arab parties present 12-point plan to combat violent crime

Prime Minister Netanyahu is set to meet with Arab MKs to discuss the spike in violent crime in the Arab sector on Monday evening.

 National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Israel Police chief Kobi Shabtai. (photo credit: LIAM FORBERG)
National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Israel Police chief Kobi Shabtai.
(photo credit: LIAM FORBERG)

Hadash-Ta’al Party MKs met on Monday evening with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss a 12-point plan to fight the spike in violent crime in Israel’s Arab towns, answering a call by the prime minister last week to meet in order to seek ways to address the pressing issue.

At the end of the meeting, which lasted approximately two hours, party chairman MK Ayman Odeh said, “we are not tying our hopes to talk; the test will be in the results. In times when 90 Arab citizens are killed in just half a year, we cannot ignore any possibility, even meeting Netanyahu. It is our duty to stand together for our public.”

Hadash-Ta’al MK Ahmad Tibi added that the party had demanded that the government stop the smuggling of guns and ammunition from IDF bases to crime organizations.

Fellow party MK Ofer Cassif said, “We did not come with optimism, and we did not leave with optimistsm but it is important for us to turn over every stone to rid ourselves of this plague and for crime to be eliminated. The burden of proof is on the government, and especially on the prime minister.”

Some 90 Arab individuals, 83 of them Israeli citizens, have been killed in criminal acts and violence since the beginning of the year in Israel, according to the Abraham Initiatives organization.

 Police at the scene of a shooting in Qalansawe, June 2023 (credit: ISRAEL POLICE)
Police at the scene of a shooting in Qalansawe, June 2023 (credit: ISRAEL POLICE)

The steps in Hadash-Ta’al’s proposal, which it presented earlier on Monday ahead of its weekly faction meeting, include a government decision to fight crime in the Arab sector and a declaration about how it intends to do this; forming a ministerial committee to fight crime; appointing a special commissioner and setting a mechanism for oversight by someone on behalf of the prime minister; addressing problems of housing and land allocation to the Arab sector; forming a budgeted statutory authority in the prime minister’s office to treat organized crime and severe criminality; canceling the “National Guard,” which is being promoted by National Security Minister MK Itamar Ben-Gvir; and more.

The plan, which the party also sent to the prime minister, was announced after a discussion last week in the Knesset plenum, during which Hadash-Ta’al, along with many opposition MKs, demanded that the prime minister begin to address the worsening situation in Arab towns. Netanyahu said at the end of the discussion that he would invite the Arab MKs to a meeting to discuss the issue.

The party also called on the second Arab-Israeli party in the Knesset, Ra’am, to join it in demanding that the plan be implemented. Ra’am chairman MK Mansour Abbas announced his support for the plan minutes later at a press conference ahead of his party’s weekly meeting but he later said that the party had decided not to join the meeting with Netanyahu, with fellow Ra’am MK Waleed Taha tweeting, “we will not take part in a false show by Netanyahu.”

Ben-Gvir promises to appoint commissioner to handle Arab sector crime

Earlier on Monday, National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir announced that he would appoint a special commissioner to handle crime and murders in the Arab sector.

Ben-Gvir intends to make the appointment within the next two weeks. The commissioner will be tasked with preparing and implementing operational plans to reduce crime in the sector.

“I intend to put the fight against crime and murders in Arab society at the top of the priorities of the National Security Ministry,” said Ben-Gvir. “I also intend to allocate large resources for this purpose by bringing police officers to the field, raising police salaries and establishing the National Guard.”

Tibi responded in the party meeting that there was an “acute need” to form a ministerial committee led by Netanyahu on the matter, and to appoint a special commissioner who will answer directly to the prime minister, not the national security minister.

“When an Arab was killed in Dubai, within hours there were videos and suspects were arrested,” Tibi said. “What does the Dubai Police have that the [Israeli] government does not?”