Ben-Gvir to direct police to treat left-wing protesters with harder hand

Labor MK Gilad Kariv: “Ben-Gvir is already breaking the law”

 National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir speaking at the beginning of his Otzma Yehudit party's faction meeting. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir speaking at the beginning of his Otzma Yehudit party's faction meeting.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir will direct the Israel Police to arrest protesters who block roads or riot at an upcoming protest on Saturday, KAN reported on Sunday evening.

According to the newly amended Police Law, Ben-Gvir is only allowed to intervene in matters of "policy and general principles," and not tactical matters. However, the definition of "policy and general principles" is unclear. Those opposed to the law warned of this kind of situation.

Ben-Gvir also directed the police to intervene and use force if necessary, if celebrations that include the glorification of terrorists occur after another long-time security prisoner is expected to be released from prison in the coming days, KAN reported.

At the beginning of his party’s faction meeting earlier on Monday, Ben-Gvir said that at he had met with the Israel Police top command earlier in the day and discussed with them the left-wing protesters' “law-breaking,” demanding that the police “enforce the law equally.”

“I am in favor of demonstrations and freedom of speech, but we also saw severe damage to democracy, incitement against [Justice] Minister Yariv Levin and road blocks.” Ben-Gvir said that he had told the top police brass that “whoever blocks a road or riots should be arrested. The law enforcement against the Left should be the same as it is against the Right.”

 Faction meeting of the National Unity Party on 09.01.22. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM) Faction meeting of the National Unity Party on 09.01.22. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Regarding Younis, he said, “In the State of Israel it cannot be that there is praise for terrorists,” adding that he had directed the police in real-time to stop the event. The police did not heed his directive.

Labor MK Gilad Kariv said in response, "Just two weeks after the Police Law passed and Ben-Gvir is already breaking the law. The Knesset explicitly said that he cannot give specific orders regarding the use of force, but only deal with general principles and policy.

"The Attorney General must clarify to Ben-Gvir the limits of his intervention based on the law that he himself passed," Kariv wrote. He added that he would appeal to the attorney general and the legal advisors of the national security ministry and the police on the matter.

Speeches at the faction meetings

OTHER POLITICIANS also spoke ahead of their faction meetings on Monday. Former defense minister and National Unity Party Chairman MK Benny Gantz said at a press conference ahead of his party’s weekly meeting that the majority of Israel’s citizens oppose Levin’s judicial reforms, and will take to the streets to “shake the country.”

“They don’t want a balanced system, they want it on its back,” Gantz said, adding that he and his fellow party members would take to the streets as well, but without violence or incitement.

Turning to “liberal right-wing voters,” Gantz said that they, too, should oppose the judicial reforms, since they will harm individual rights and freedoms.

Turning to the haredi and religious-Zionist sectors, Gantz listed examples in which the High Court came to their defense, and said that they, too, should join the protest.

“Voters will remember every Knesset member who raises his finger in favor of the destruction of Israel’s democracy,” Gantz said.

Gantz did not directly condemn signs at a protest against the government on Saturday night that depicted Levin as a Nazi officer, and the government as the Third Reich, instead giving a more general condemnation of incitement.

National Unity number two and former justice minister MK Gideon Sa’ar added that the fact that Levin wanted to change the makeup of the Judicial Appointments Committee, such that it gives the coalition an automatic majority – which never existed in the past – proved that Levin and Netanyahu do not want to “balance” the system, but to destroy it.

 Opposition Leader Yair Lapid speaking ahead of his Yesh Atid party's faction meeting. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM) Opposition Leader Yair Lapid speaking ahead of his Yesh Atid party's faction meeting. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

There was room for judicial reform, Sa’ar said, but Levin’s plans will lead to judges becoming pawns in a political game, and citizens without a way to defend their rights.

The Likud said in response, “Gantz, who did not condemn the comparison of the justice minister to a Nazi and his government as the Third Reich, is sowing the seeds of calamity.”

Opposition Leader Yair Lapid added to this ahead of his Yesh Atid Party’s faction meeting, arguing that the reform constituted a “canceling of the Declaration of Independence.”

“A country in which the government is allowed to do anything is not a democracy. A government that one morning cancels the [governing system’s] checks and balances is not a democracy,” Lapid said.

“Politicians will appoint submissive judges who will do what they are told. The judges will be the government’s subordinates. Any judge that agrees to such a disgraceful appointment process is in advance a servant of the government,” Lapid charged.

The former prime minister added that this was no longer a matter of politics but of the continued existence of the State of Israel, and of “the very idea of a joint society, which this bad government wants to trample without mercy.”

Lapid concluded with a pledge that his party would take to the streets to “explain over and over and over what is really happening here.”

THE HEADS of the opposition parties held a meeting on Monday afternoon without Hadash-Ta’al chairman MK Ayman Odeh. In response to a question from a reporter, Lapid said that he did not consider Odeh a part of the coalition. Odeh partnered with the Likud to bring down the previous government and is continuing to participate with the new government, Lapid said.

Odeh responded later to Lapid, saying “In the wonderful demonstration on Saturday there were 30,000 people, even though Lapid’s people tried to divide it, without success.

“You became used to petting Arabs, while your government killed 114 Palestinians. It is too bad that we were not the ones who brought down your government. We are against the center-left’s condescension,” Odeh said.

 Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the beginning of his party's faction meeting. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the beginning of his party's faction meeting. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

According to Walla News, the opposition heads agreed to hold a joint demonstration this coming Saturday night. Yisrael Beytenu head MK Avigdor Liberman reportedly did not commit his party to the demonstration, since he did not want to be associated with some of its left-wing elements, Walla added.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also spoke at the beginning of his party’s faction meeting. Netanyahu claimed that it was already visible that he had formed a government that will operate differently – on the economy, foreign policy, security and more.

Netanyahu stressed that his government had received a “clear mandate” from the public to carry out what it promised during the election campaign.

“That is the essence of democracy – implementing the voter’s will.”

Netanyahu added that his government would not be deterred by a “one-sided media campaign” or the “raving incitement” against it. He condemned what he claimed was the opposition’s silence regarding the incitement against Levin.

In other news on Monday, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich announced that he would resign from the Knesset under the Norwegian Law, paving the way for number 16 on his list, Tzvi Sukkot, to become a member of Knesset.

Four MKs were sworn in on Monday in place of the four ministers who resigned from the Knesset last week, three from the Likud and one from United Torah Judaism.

The four new MKs are Dan Illouz, Ariel Kallner and Eti Attiah of the Likud, and Yizhak Pindrus from UTJ.