Israel’s Security Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has decided to outlaw the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel. The move drew many responses from the whole political spectrum in Israel, with most supporting it except for Arab-Muslim factors, who oppose it.
The northern branch of the Islamic Movement is headed by Sheikh Raed Salah, who has been recently sentenced to 11 months in prison for incitement. The group denies Israel’s right to exist, calls for replacing it with an Islamic caliphate and does not recognize governmental institutions.
“Israel must lead the global battle against radical Islam, which has been slaughtering innocent people in Paris, New York, Madrid and Israel,” said Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan. “The Islamic Movement, Hamas, ISIS and the other organizations have a common ideology that supports terrorist attacks around the world and in Israel.”
The organization has led a campaign for the last 20 years claiming that ‘Al Aqsa is in danger’, a century old accusation that Israel is intending to harm the Al Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount. An annual mass event is held every September on this issue, causing a rise in tensions and in terrorist attacks during that time of year.
“Since Sheikh Salah started with this motif, millions of Muslims around the world have been citing this as a mantra without ever seeing Al Aqsa and without knowing what is really happening there,” Ksenia Svetlova from the left wing Zionist Union list claimed. “If a Nobel Prize was handed out for inciters, Salah would definitely be a leading candidate.”
“This is a good decision, and it isn’t clear why Israeli governments waited so long to understand that incitement really kills,” added Svetlova. “Simultaneously, we have to invest in education in the Arab sector and strengthen the moderate voices. Israeli Arabs are part of us, and only through hard work can we overcome the extremists.”
‘Students for the Temple Mount’, a Temple Mount activist group, also commented: “After the natural decision to outlaw the northern branch, we expect similar action to be taken against the Murabitat and Murabitun on the Temple Mount. Absurdly, they have resumed their rampaging on the Mount even though they were similarly outlawed a month ago.”
Ayman Odeh, head of the Arab ‘Joint List’ party, opposed the decision: “Netanyahu is continuing to try and escalate the situation. This decision is strategic, and the timing shows that he wants to make this a religious conflict. This is an anti-democratic political persecution, as part of the government’s delegitimization campaign against the Arab community in Israel.”
Yousef Jabareen, Odeh’s fellow party member, added: “This is a harsh violation of a national minority’s right for religious freedom. Arab leaders in Israel are united in condemning this move, and warn of its consequences. We will initiate protests and turn to international institutions to defend our rights.”
“This move is not directed against the Arab and Muslim public in Israel, the great majority of which upholds the laws of the state and disavows incitement and terrorism,” the Prime Minister’s office clarified. “Rather, it is directed against elements that drive and support incitement and racist activity, undermine regional stability and cause harm to innocent life.”