Ministers to combat settler violence

New procedures include legal action against schools which incite violence.

police, settler clash n  (photo credit: AP)
police, settler clash n
(photo credit: AP)
New procedures to combat settler violence against Palestinians in the territories were proposed Monday by a newly created ministerial committee headed by Defense Minister Amir Peretz. Increased use of restraining orders against settlers as well as legal actions against educational institutions that incite teens to break the law or act violently against security forces are among the proposals that could be approved within 30 days. Such educational institutions could also be in danger of having their budgets slashed, according to the committee's proposal. Settlers attacked the committee's actions as well as the timing of its meeting. "On a day when Israelis were killed by a terror attack" refering to the three Israelis killed Monday in Eilat, the country's Defense Minister should not focus on Israeli violence against Palestinians, said Emily Amrusi, the spokeswoman for the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. "I smell the bitter whiff of primaries," said Amrusi. "It's imperative that the security establishment tackle strategic and terror threats rather than sow hatred and division with the nation." She took particular issue with the threat of restraining orders against residents of Judea and Samaria who the security forces fear could act violently against Palestinians. She was joined in her concern by an unlikely ally, the human rights organization B'tselem, which on Monday said it too was worried about the inclusion of restraining orders as a tool to keep order between Israelis and Palestinians in the territories. Even as it welcomed the security force's new focus on settler violence B'tselem warned the security forces to take care not to violate the settler rights. "Restraining orders should be used as a preventative measures and not as tool for punishment," said B'tselem spokeswoman Sarit Michaeli. The security forces would do better to provide clear instructions on what to do when violence breaks out between settlers and Palestinians and to enforce the law with minors than to make use of a policy of restraining orders which has been abused in the past, said Michaeli. The government established this ministerial committee two weeks ago with the intent of clarifying the role of law enforcement in situations of violence between settlers and Palestinians. The government and the Defense Ministry were spurred into action after a video was released to the media, which showed a soldier standing but not taking actions as a Jewish woman in Hebron pushed her Palestinian neighbor and called her a "slut." At the time Peretz said he was particularly upset by the soldier's inaction because it gave the impression that the IDF sanctioned the harassment of Palestinians. In speaking with the committee on Monday, Peretz said it was important that the security forces in the territories not condone such actions and breaches of law. The committee is made up of Peretz, Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh (Labor), Foreign and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (Kadima), Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter (Kadima) and Interior Minister Roni Bar-On (Kadima). Also present at Monday's meeting were representatives from the prosecutor's office, the police and the IDF. The proposals outlined on Monday needs approval from a number of offices including the Justice and Defense Ministries before it can be put into action.