The new government of Benyamin Netanyahu does not yet exist, but it is already putting pressure on Israeli institutions, the army, the police and the justice system. One month after the legislative elections of 1er November, Mr. Netanyahu negotiates sluggishly with his ultra-Orthodox and far-right Jewish partners to form the most right-wing government in the country’s history.
Already, his ally Itamar Ben Gvir, driving force of the Religious Zionism list (14 seats out of 120 in Parliament), has been promised the leadership of the police. This lawyer, Jewish supremacist, sentenced in 2007 for incitement to hatred and support for a terrorist organization, must take the ministry of national security. In particular, he will be responsible for ensuring order on the esplanade of the Mosques, the Temple Mount for the Jews, the most flammable place in the Holy Land.
The police are the poor relation of the Israeli security forces. It is structurally short of men and budget. In Jerusalem, the reputation for violence of some of its units is well established. Apart from its operations to “maintain order” in the Arab, eastern part of the city, occupied by Israel since 1967, it essentially abandons the Palestinians there to their fate. Just like the ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods in the west of the city, where rabbis rule the roost.
Mr. Ben Gvir will have authority over the appointments of senior officers and over the budget. He was promised funds to recruit. He hopes to gain power over the Border Police, a shock force subject to the army, active in East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank, as well as over units responsible for combating illegal construction in Arab-majority areas of Israel. The current Minister of Defense, Benny Gantz, felt that this would amount to providing him “a private militia. » Mr. Ben Gvir is also campaigning for the relaxation of the rules for opening fire by the police, as well as the army.
The army seeks to take the lead
According to a recent poll by the Israel Democracy Institute, 55% of Israelis believe the military should kill Palestinian “terrorists” even when they no longer pose an immediate danger. They are 71% to say they are in favor of the death penalty for those with blood on their hands – a requirement of Mr. Ben Gvir.
Several controversies have monopolized the public debate in recent days, which reveal to what extent his expected appointment is already testing Israeli institutions. The first pits Mr. Ben Gvir against a decorated war hero. Lieutenant-Colonel Aviran Alfasi, battalion commander in the army’s Givati brigade, imposed ten days’ detention on one of his soldiers. This man had promised, in front of the camera of a Jewish activist for Palestinian rights in Hebron, in the West Bank, that “Ben Gvir [allait] restore order here”. One of his comrades had beaten another protester.
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