'Chauvinist Reaction': Israeli Female Minister Told to 'Stop Interfering in War on Terror'

After questioning Defense Minister Gantz's designation of Palestinian NGOs as terrorists, Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli, a member of the security cabinet, was chastised by Gantz's party for 'interfering'

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Mearv Michaeli
Labor Party chairowman Merav Michaeli, a member of Israel's security and foreign affairs cabinetCredit: Ohad Zwigenberg

Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s Kahol Lavan party chided Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli on Monday for her criticism of the government's decision to designate six Palestinian civil society groups as terrorist organizations, telling her to stop “interfering in the war on terror.”

Michaeli, leader of the Labor Party, issued one of the sharpest attacks on the move by a coalition partner in the Bennett-Lapid government.

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Her criticism emphasized the way in which the decision was made and announced, as it forewent wider consultation with coalition party leaders like herself, proper notification of Israel’s allies, and was implemented without a public relations strategy in place.

“Such moves, when they are necessary, must be executed correctly, with sufficient preparation, in a manner that doesn’t damage Israel’s interests,” Michaeli said, referring to international condemnation of the move, and the assertion by U.S. government officials that they were not informed before the announcement was made.

On Friday, Gantz signed an order declaring the six civil society organizations in the West Bank terrorist organizations. He said that the decision was made in view of classified findings by the Shin Bet security service which showed that these groups operate in a network run by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terror group.  

According to the findings, these NGOs funnel funds given to them by foreign countries and other organizations to the PFLP in order to promote terrorism, recruit members and pay salaries to security prisoners, their families, and terrorists.

Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli and Defense Minister Benny Gantz in Jerusalem, last week.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

The decision and the way in which it was rolled out, Michaeli said, “caused great harm to our relationships with our biggest and most important allies.”

Michaeli said that she planned to discuss the details of the information driving the decision with the security services in order to understand why Israel was putting itself in this “uncomfortable position.”

“I am very sorry that this conversation has to take place after the decision was announced, and not beforehand as it should have been,” she said.

In response to Michaeli’s statement, one in a series of criticisms of the decision from center-left members of the coalition, Blue and White released a statement saying, “we suggest that Merav Michaeli, who doesn’t know the details, not interfere with the war on terror.”

The wording of the Blue and White statement was condemned by Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg, of the left-wing Meretz party, in a radio interview Tuesday.

“I think it is chauvinist to say to a woman who is a member of the Security Cabinet: ‘don’t interfere, you don’t understand anything.”

Yesh Atid Welfare Minister Meir Cohen agreed in another media interview that the Blue and White attack on Michaeli was “unnecessary,” and that the Labor leader “should say whatever she sees fit.”

He added that such internal scuffles “will not bring down the government."

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