Bennett Calls for Military Crackdown in Jerusalem

Habayit Hayehudi leader slams government's 'defensive doctrine,' calls Palestinian president a 'terrorist.'

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Naftali Bennett speaking at the Knesset.
Naftali Bennett speaking at the Knesset.Credit: Emil Salman
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Economics Minister Naftali Bennett slammed the government for its handling of the wave of violence in East Jerusalem and called for a shift from a defensive stance to a military offensive in the capital.

“It’s time to launch a Defensive Shield in our capital, Jerusalem. In Operation Defensive Shield we invaded the city centers and terror stopped,” said Bennett, head of Habayit Hayehudi in a speech at Bar Ilan University, referring to an Israeli operation in the West Bank during the Second Intifada.

“Defensive Shield is catching the terrorists in their beds at 3 A.M., seizing the inciters on the nets, capturing the fireworks stores, getting to their commanders,” he said. “We must raise the Israeli people’s head. Stop blaming ourselves,” he said.

Bennett’s words came a day after State President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held talks with several MKs and asked them to tone down their statements about Temple Mount. The police also warned politicians to stop visiting Temple Mount and making irresponsible statements that could escalate the situation.

“A government that hides behind concrete standshas no right to exist,” Bennett said. “A government that apologizes instead of demanding an apology when its people are killed – has no right to exist. A government that cannot bring back deterrence and sovereignty and provide security for its people in their capital – has no right to exist,” he said.

“Since when have we become a country obsessed with a defensive doctrine? Concrete blocks, fences and iron domes, security guards in every corner, a shelter for every child,” he said.

Bennett pointed a finger at Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and called him a terrorist.

“Abbas who says Jews soil Temple Mountis no partner – he’s a terrorist. Abbas who sent a letter of consolation to the man who shot Yehuda Glick – is no partner, he’s a terrorist,” he said.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called King Abdullah II of Jordan Thursday, assuring him that Jordan’s special status regarding the Temple Mount and the Muslim holy places in Jerusalem, as specified in the peace agreement between the two countries, would be preserved.

The day before, Jordan recalled its ambassador to Israel in protest against what it described as “the increasing and unprecedented Israeli escalation in the Noble Sanctuary and the repeated Israeli violations of Jerusalem,” the Jordanian state news agency reported.

Though Thursday was relatively a quiet day in Jerusalem, compared to the violence of the past few weeks, it still had several incidents of stone throwing, neighborhood closures, and arrests.

Jerusalem Police Chief Moshe Edri restricted prayers on the Temple Mount on Friday to men over the age of 35. There will be no age restriction for women. This is a significantly less restrictive policy than the one imposed last Friday, which barred men under the age of 50.

Hamas on Thursday urged Palestinians throughout the West Bank to participate in marches at the end of Friday’s prayers in order to “protect” Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque from the “Zionist siege.” Marchers are slated to depart from Ramallah, Al-Bireh, Hebron and Nablus and head toward Israeli checkpoints, which could result in clashes.

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