National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir is determined to provoke an intifada that will be named for him. He won’t rest until he drags the Israeli government, the IDF and all Israelis into the ultimate reckless adventure that will turn Israel into a pariah state.
He will be the one to bring down the Palestinian Authority once and for all and place Israel on an accelerated collision course with the Arab states that forged peace agreements with Israel, with Washington and with the Western countries in general. The script has been written, the stage is set, the motivation is burning, the force is yearning to burst ahead and the barriers have been tossed by the wayside.
Ben-Gvir went up to the Temple Mount, what are you going to do about it? Who will be able to stop him when he brings a bunch of troublemakers with him to the Temple Mount, and who will have any desire to clash with him? Koby Shabtai, the emasculated police chief, will have to coordinate the visit, deploy guards and confront Palestinian protesters and rock-throwers.
This is the same police chief (who “turned the police into a joke,” according to Ben-Gvir) who, in May 2021, when the mixed cities were swept up in a paroxysm of violence, charged, “The person responsible for this intifada is Itamar Ben-Gvir. It started with the Lehava protest at Damascus Gate, continued with the provocation in Sheikh Jarrah and now he’s roaming around the cities with Lehava activists.
Yesterday, after we had succeeded in calming the situation in Acre, he showed up with a bus full of activists and stirred things up again. The police lack the tools to deal with him.” Today, Itamar Ben-Gvir is the police and Shabtai has become his junior partner who must see to it that his minister boss can go about waging his Jewish jihad without interference.
But this is more than just another test of the balance of power between the minister and his subordinate. Ben-Gvir has also made Netanyahu a puppet prime minister, and himself the minister who will determine Israel’s foreign policy from now on. With Israel having to continually grapple with the consequences of his thuggery; he will also dictate the army’s order of priorities in regard to the front that will heat up in the West Bank and Gaza.
Benjamin Netanyahu may be the one packing his suitcase for his state visit to the United Arab Emirates and afterwards will be keen to visit his friend, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi, as well. But Ben-Gvir is already the one dictating the agenda. Netanyahu would do well to recall the words of Amiera AlHefeiti, deputy permanent representative of the United Arab Emirates Mission to the United Nations, in her speech to the UN Security Council in August. “It is important to preserve the legal and historical status quo in the holy places in Jerusalem and to refrain from any action aimed at altering the city’s identity.”
This public declaration should not have come as any surprise. Diplomatic sources say that the UAE previously held intensive talks with the prime minister and with Defense Minister Benny Gantz about its concerns over worrisome developments in the territories and in Jerusalem especially.
When Israel’s new ally felt that the Israeli government was not taking its warning seriously enough, it decided to come out with a public statement. Is Netanyahu going to tell UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the man who forced him to drop the idea of applying Israeli law in the territories in return for normalization, that he needn’t be too concerned about Ben-Gvir and that everything is under control?
Or will he have to explain, “The Temple Mount is in our hands,” and say to hell with the Abraham Accords? What will Netanyahu say to Sissi after Hamas fires dozens or hundreds of rockets at Israel and Egypt is asked “to calm the situation”? That Ben-Gvir is of no importance? That he controls him – when hundreds of Israeli families in the Gaza border communities, and in Ashkelon, Ashdod and Tel Aviv, are forced to cower in shelters?
Right off the bat, Netanyahu began his new term as prime minister with an act of fraud and deception, pretending he’d convinced Ben-Gvir to postpone his visit to the Temple Mount. But this time it’s not just about cigars and champagne. In his behavior as prime minister, Netanyahu is directly endangering the lives of Israeli and Palestinian civilians, of police officers and soldiers, and Israel’s security.