Israeli Police Bar Far-right Kahanist Lawmaker From Temple Mount, Flag March

According to the police commissioner, the presence of MK's Itamar Ben-Gvir and May Golan at the sensitive site would be liable to incite riots

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Israeli Knesset member Itamar Ben Gvir the Old City of Jerusalem, June 2021.
Israeli Knesset member Itamar Ben Gvir the Old City of Jerusalem, June 2021.Credit: Ariel Schalit,AP

Israel’s Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai, in an unprecedented decision, banned on Wednesday far-right Kahanist Knesset members, Itamar Ben-Gvir and May Golan, from marching at the Damascus Gate in East Jerusalem on Thursday with the planned Flag March.

According to the commissioner, the Knesset members' presence would be liable to incite riots. The commissioner also decided to ban Ben-Gvir from entering the Temple Mount, or Haram al-Sharif as it’s known to Muslims, on Wednesday and Thursday. The restriction is dependent on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's approval.

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The Knesset Guard, Yosef Grif, also confirmed the decision: "MK Ben-Gvir's ascent to the Temple Mount at this time could certainly lead to increased tensions and provoke disturbances that will spill over to other aspects of state security."

People marching during the last Flag March in Jerusalem, last month. Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

Grif also informed Ben-Gvir and Golan that their participation in the Flag March would almost certainly "violate public order and harm state security." 

Ben-Gvir said, in response to the police commissioner's decision, "It is the death knell of democracy. Instead of dealing with rioters, the police is attacking the immunity of Knesset members who are asking to march through our capital of Jerusalem with the Israeli flag, one hundred meters from a light rail station."

"The commissioner failed to control the rioters in Lod, in the south and at the Temple Mount and now, with this unprecedented decision, he's negating a Knesset member's freedom of movement. I expect the prime minister to reverse his decision," Ben-Gvir added. 

On Tuesday, Ben-Gvir notified the Knesset Guard of his intention to go to the Temple Mount on Wednesday and Thursday, regardless of the police commissioner's ban. Knesset members who wish to visit the Temple Mount are required to inform police 24 hours before doing so. 

Ben-Gvir expressed shock at the police's refusal to allow him entry to the holy site, saying that the procedure was illegal. 

Israel's security cabinet decided on Tuesday to postpone the march through Jerusalem, initially planned for Thursday but canceled after police said they wouldn’t allow it to pass through the Old City’s Muslim Quarter, citing security concerns.

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