The establishment of a national guard force in Israel will sabotage efforts to de-escalate tensions between Israel and the Palestinians, Palestinians warned on Wednesday.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir reached agreement on the force, which is expected to be approved by the cabinet next week.
The new force will focus on fighting criminal organizations, especially in the Arab-Israeli sector, a spokesman for Ben-Gvir said Tuesday.
Palestinians fear that the new force will also operate in the West Bank.
The Palestinian Authority described the proposed force as a “militia” and said it “raises many fears about its role against the Palestinians.”
In a statement, the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs accused Ben-Gvir, who will be responsible for the national guard force, of “racism” and “malevolence.”
“giving these criminals a legal cover so that they would not be prosecuted is a public legitimization of killing and committing more massacres and acts of bullying against Palestinians and their properties.”Rouhi Fattouh, Chairman of the Palestine National Council
The ministry accused Netanyahu of “unleashing” Ben-Gvir against the Palestinians and warned that the move would “spark and intensify the conflict, thus sabotaging any effort to stop the escalation and achieve calm.”
Grave consequences for Israel?
Rouhi Fattouh, chairman of the Palestine National Council, the legislative body of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), said Netanyahu’s agreement to establish the new force, which will report to Ben-Gvir, would “grant legitimacy to the settler gangs and serve as an arm of the right-wing fascist government to terrorize the Palestinians and steal their properties.”
Fattouh, who some Palestinians consider to be a potential successor to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, also said the new force would not be different than settler groups such as the hilltop youth, whose members are often accused of carrying out violent attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank.
He warned that “giving these criminals a legal cover so that they would not be prosecuted is a public legitimization of killing and committing more massacres and acts of bullying against Palestinians and their properties.”
Fattouh called on the international community to designate the Israeli national guard force as a terrorist organization.
The Palestinian ruling Fatah faction warned that the decision to establish the new force would have “grave consequences and lead to an unprecedented escalation against the Palestinian people.”
Osama Qawassmeh, a Fatah spokesman in the West Bank, described the new force as a “militia” and said the Israeli government was planning to step up its measures against the Palestinians. He urged the international community to take a “firm stance” against the Israeli move.
PLO Executive Committee member Saleh Ra’fat denounced the decision to establish the new force as “dangerous” and said its main mission would be to expel the Palestinians from their homes, cities and villages.
“The measures and practices undertaken by the settler government will push toward more conflict between our Palestinian people and the occupying state and will drag the entire region toward more violence and chaos,” he said.