Defense Minister Benny Ganz said on Saturday that he would demand a right-wing nationalist parade through Jerusalem’s Old City if it “requires emergency security measures and endangers public order and diplomatic processes.”
The controversial march is scheduled to take place in Jerusalem’s Old City on June 10th after police canceled the annual march for Jerusalem Day in the middle of May 10th, when Hamas fired a rocket at the city.
Ganz released the statement after meeting with military and police chiefs, the chief prosecutor and other senior security officials. The Minister of Defense stated that he stressed to all present the need for responsible and sensitive behavior. Remarkably absent from the meeting were Public Security Minister Amir Ohana of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu̵
In response to Ganz’s statement, far-right religious Zionist leader Bezalel Smotric called the defense minister “cowardly.”
“We did not wait for a Jewish, independent, sovereign state for 2,000 years just to have a cowardly defense minister publicly worship Hamas’s terrorist threats (and calls for more threats and more terrorism) and try to thwart the Jews. to march with Israeli flags to Jerusalem, our holy city and the united capital, “Smotrich wrote on Twitter, urging Netanyahu and Ohana to announce that the march would go according to plan.
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An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Hebrew media earlier on Saturday that police would make a final request whether the march would take place. “Israel is back to routine, there are no current restrictions and Jews are visiting the Temple Mount,” the official said.
Leaders of the left-wing Labor, Meretz and Joint List parties warned earlier Saturday of the potential negative consequences of the march, saying they thought it could be a deliberate attempt to thwart the formation of a so-called “government”. for change “.
Police chiefs were scheduled to hold a meeting Sunday to decide whether to approve the march. According to Channel 12, the parade is likely to be approved, albeit possibly with changes to its route, including a refusal to allow participants to pass through the unstable area of the Damascus Gate, which was at the center of unrest in the capital last month.
Yesh Atid MK Ram Ben-Barak said on Saturday that the parade was an attempt to rebuild the region and thwarted plans to swear in a new government.
“We are at the beginning of difficult days, when there will be a lot of pressure and attempts to thwart the change in government, but eventually a new era will begin here. “The will to form a government that unites the division in Israeli society will overcome all attempts to thwart it,” Ben-Barak said.
After previous riots in Jerusalem were engulfed by Hamas to shoot at the city on May 10, sparking 11 days of Israeli-Gaza conflict and days of Arab-Jewish violence in Israel, some critics of Netanyahu have accused him of setting fires in the capital to thwart attempts by his rivals to form a government to remove him from power. Amid the violence, party leader Raam Mansour Abbas withdrew from coalition talks, and party leader Yamina Naftali Bennett briefly expelled the government from the bloc of change.
However, both eventually returned to the table, and on Wednesday night the bloc announced that it had agreed to form a government. The planned coalition, which has a majority of 61-59, was voted by the Knesset on June 9th or 14th.
Labor leader Merav Michaeli also said in an interview with Channel 12 on Saturday that rescheduling the march seemed like an attempt to resume violence, adding that “all the drama we saw over the provocations in Jerusalem will hardly calm down, it will be frankly irresponsible.” allow it again. “
“If Netanyahu and Smotric revive Jerusalem next week, there will be no more doubts about the motive and purpose,” Merec leader Nietzsche Horowitz said, referring to the participation of Zionist Religious Party leader Bezalel Smotric in the planned march.
“We will not allow them to burn the country out of Balfour,” Horowitz added, referring to the prime minister’s official residence.
Arab Israeli lawmakers Ahmad Tibi of the Joint List and Isaui Frey of Meretz issued letters to the police chief demanding that the march be canceled.
“This is a provocation that seems like an attempt to resume violence in our region, perhaps in the hope that it will serve certain political interests,” Frey wrote.
Tibi said the planned march posed a “great danger of violence.”
Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak said the planned march “looks like a cumbersome attempt to resume violence in sensitive times”, adding that it is in the hands of Ganz, Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai and the head of Shin Bet Nadav’s security service. Argaman to prevent it.
Meanwhile, far-right MC Itamar Ben Gvir said the parade would take place despite warnings that it could resume violence.
“Faced with the wrath of the far left government, we will take to Jerusalem,” Ben Gwir said. “Jerusalem is our capital forever and ever and we will go everywhere, happy.”
Ben Gvir’s decision to “relocate” his office to East Jerusalem during tensions there last month is thought to be a central cause of unrest there, which later spread to the Temple Mount, leading Hamas to fire rockets at Israel and this fueled last month’s conflict with Gaza and inter-ethnic violence in Israeli cities.
The eight-party coalition, which aims to oust Netanyahu, appears increasingly likely to secure the necessary support from the Knesset majority. The assessment among all members of the change bloc, led by Prime Minister-designate Bennett and Yesh leader Yair Lapid, is that the coalition will indeed be sworn in, according to television reports Friday.
The envisaged coalition unites eight parties from across the political spectrum: the Right Yamina, New Hope and Israel Beitenu, the centrist Yesh Atid and the Blue and Whites, the Left Labor and Meretz, and the conservative Islamic Party of Raam. Bennett will be prime minister until mid-2023, and Lapid will succeed him for the next two years.
But a rescheduled march could revive violence in the capital and beyond, and could provoke an unstable alliance trying to bring down Netanyahu.
The Hamas terrorist group warned on Saturday of “consequences” if the march passes through the entrance of the Damascus Gate to the Old City. Mohammed Hamade, a spokesman for the terrorist group in Jerusalem, called on Palestinians to arrive at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Thursday, when the march is expected to take place to “protect it from the malice of Zionism and their schemes.”
The Islamic Jihad group, which was also heavily involved in the fighting in Gaza, said the march would be seen as “hostile action against the Palestinian people and the Palestinian land”. He called on the Palestinians to gather in Al-Aqsa and stand up to any attempt to break through the complex.
Several Jewish media outlets reported that the organizers had received permission from police to hold the event on June 10, with permission to march to the Western Wall through the Damascus Gate and through the Muslim Quarter. This route has long been seen as provocative by Israeli and Palestinian critics, given that local Arab shopkeepers have been forced to close their shops so that law enforcement can secure the Palestinian-majority area for predominantly nationalist Jews.
But Israeli police did not immediately confirm the route, and later the news site Ynet reported that police had not yet signed the final permit.
“Once again, we will parade through the streets of Jerusalem with our heads held high and Israeli flags raised. We will demand the unification of Jerusalem forever. Come to the crowds! “The organizers said in a statement posted on social media on Thursday.
The message was signed by several right-wing and religious Zionist groups, including the Bnei Akiva youth movement, Im Tirzu and the villages of Block Ariel and Etzion. It was also signed by the far-right Religious Party of Zionism.
The annual march is traditionally held on Jerusalem Day, when Israel celebrates the reunification of the city after Israeli forces captured East Jerusalem, including the Old City and its holy sites, during the 1967 Six-Day War.
The Old City of Jerusalem, with the Temple Mount, the site of the biblical Jewish temples and now home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, has traditionally been one of the main points of conflict between Israel and Palestine.
The Netanyahu government agreed to divert the flag march away from Damascus Gate and the Muslim Quarter hours before the May 10 celebrations, suppressing pressure from the United States, which feared the parade’s original route would cause tensions in the city.
The city was already on the brink of widespread protests and clashes ahead of impending expulsions of Palestinians in the Sheikh Jara district of East Jerusalem and repression of violent protests at the mountain temple complex during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Hamas used the violence in the city as a pretext to fire rockets at Jerusalem, sparking 11 days of intense fighting in which more than 4,000 rockets fired Israel and the ISIS fired about 1,500 strikes on Gaza. The march was officially stopped when the missiles were fired, but some participants completed it.
Since the ceasefire was announced on May 21, the Egyptian military has been working to negotiate a long-term ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, including an exchange of prisoners. Hamas has warned that events in Jerusalem could lead to a resumption of hostilities.