Israel’s security cabinet voted on Tuesday evening to allow the flag march, which recently became highly controversial, to be held in Jerusalem’s Old City next week on Tuesday, June 15. The approval from the security cabinet came on the condition that the police approve the route and agree that it is safe.
This agreement was a compromise between the options of not holding the march at all, and holding it this coming Thursday while marching directly through Sha’ar Shechem in what can only be called an attempt to rile up the Muslim population in and around the old-city and create another wave of violence.
However, many of the Knesset members from Likud and the National Zionist party have stated that Hamas threatening violence can not and will not define Israeli policy when it comes to replanning the celebration that was originally supposed to take place on May 10th, but was canceled due to the threat of rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.
Organizers had sought to hold a rescheduled flag march through the Muslim Quarter of the Old City on Thursday, but security officials from the police refused to give their permission for the march due to the planned route going through the Muslim quarter and the worry that it would reignite violence.
In a politically astute move, the cabinet rescheduled the date and approved a new date to take place after the Knesset holds a confidence vote to approve the new government, which would put Naftali Bennett in power as Prime Minister and remove Netanyahu.
According to the agreement reached by Netanyahu, the police, and the organizers, the police will present the organizers with a number of different alternatives for the route of the march that they would approve of beforehand.
Netanyahu was adamant that the march should continue and told confidants that, “The flag march needs to take place. We cannot surrender to threats made by Hamas. Anyone who claims that the existence of the march is meant to torpedo the new government is wrong. It is our right to hold such a march.”
Defense Minister Benny Gantz said during the security meeting that, “Holding the march now is likely to bring about a new wave of violence, which is not something that we are interested in.”
Internal Security Minister Amir Ohana responded and said: “You are giving Hamas a sense of victory by saying that. This is not what deterrence looks like.”
The head of Israel’s National Security Service Nadav Argaman responded and said: “The current situation is very heated. This event could ignite the region.”
A high-ranking source in the Defense Ministry told N12 news that “it seems like someone in the political echelon is purposely trying to set Jerusalem on fire this week specifically. They are going against all of the advice from the professional security echelon including the Shin Bet and the police.”
MKs Itamar Ben Gvir (National Zionist Party) and May Golan (Likud) have said publicly that they will employ their immunity to legal prosecution and hold the flag march at its planned date and route, regardless of the fact that the police have canceled it.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)