Eldad slams public security minister over Ben-Ari arrest

MK Arye Eldad (National Union), whose fellow faction member Michael Ben-Ari is accused of interfering with security forces during a Monday protest, lashed out Tuesday at Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch for questioning Ben-Ari's right to parliamentary immunity. "The law regarding parliamentary immunity is clear and unquestionable," Eldad said. "Security forces have no right to prevent an MK from entering any place or to detain him for any reason other than those impacting national security. The police violently violated the law of parliamentary immunity and jailed Ben-Ari inside a police vehicle after hitting him." He continued, "We have already seen, in the past, instances of sadistic brutality by police whose real place should be behind bars - but this time the police also earned the support of the public security minister, who instead of suspending police who attacked an MK, and instead of instructing the police to immediately refresh each and every police officer's [memory regarding] all of the clauses of the law on parliamentary immunity, instead suggests reassessing the law itself." Eldad did not confine his criticism to Aharonovitch himself, but extended it to the minister's party, Israel Beiteinu, which might have been assumed to be a natural ally of the National Union in the right wing. "Aharonovitch apparently doesn't really understand democracy - the meaning of freedom of expression and freedom to protest - possibly because he is affiliated with a party in which MKs don't have any right of expression and the chairman, like a dictator, appoints all of the members," added Eldad. The public security minister launched a blitz response Tuesday morning, speaking out on both major radio stations to offer his support for the police and to condemn Ben-Ari's actions. "If Ben-Ari was intentionally creating a provocation, then with all due respect to MKs, the entire subject of immunity must be reconsidered," Aharonovitch said during a ceremony marking the change of command in the Israel Police's Judea and Samaria District. "We will test this in the courts. They simply can't take initiative and do things that are not permitted by law." Both Ben-Ari and his parliamentary aide Itamar Ben-Gvir were held for questioning Monday after the lawmaker allegedly tried to block a Border Police vehicle that was carrying two young right-wing activists arrested during a disturbance at the Yitzhar junction. In a video filmed at the scene of the protest, Ben-Ari is seen sitting on the police vehicle and telling security personnel, "You can't touch me," before being pulled off. Ben-Ari falls to the ground and covers his head before being picked up and carried away. While he is on the ground, a voice is heard calling out, "Nazis, Nazis!" While Border Police at the scene complained that it was Ben-Ari calling out the epithet, the MK denied it. "I will resign today - not tomorrow, but today - if anyone can prove that I used that term," he said during an interview on Israel Radio.