Israeli Police Saw Leftist MKs as ‘Threat’ in 2011 Before UN Decision

'Only dictatorships have enemies of the state,' Meretz's Tamar Zandberg retorts amid revelation the police marked leftist and Arab lawmakers as potential riot instigators

Netanyahu with Israel Police Chief Roni Alsheikh at a ceremony in November 2017
Gil Eliahu

Security preparations for anticipated disturbances this week over the moving of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and Nakba Day are reminiscent of 2011’s Operation Summer Seeds, the security precautions in anticipation of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ declaration of Palestinian statehood at the United Nations.

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Now it emerges that police, who had prepared for a wave of violent demonstrations in the West Bank and Jerusalem that year, had considered MKs on the left to be among the threats they had to deal with at the time.

In September 2011, the senior police brass was presented with a work plan for the expected riots. All those whom the defense establishment considered possible opponents were listed, including women, children and elderly residents of the West Bank; human rights organizations, anarchists, United Nations observers, representatives of international organizations, Israeli left-wing organizations, the Arab sector, members of the Palestinian security apparatuses, Hamas, and MKs from the left and the Arab parties, as well as right-wing extremists.

Police were preparing for the prospect of Arab and left-wing Jewish MKs acclaiming the UN vote as an achievement and calling for a sovereign Palestinian state to be allowed to establish itself alongside Israel. MKs from the right were not mentioned as possible threats to the security forces.

Meretz chairwoman Tamar Zandberg has asked Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan whether during the current preparations for possible demonstrations Monday and Tuesday, police still see left-wing MKs as threats.

“Only dictatorships have ‘enemies of the state,’ a democracy has an opposition,” Zandberg said. “The problem is that it is not clear whether the prime minister understands this, and the spirit of the commander is filtering down. The semantics in internal presentations of government officials are translated into reality on the ground. If this was indeed a one-time case, there must be a police correction and clarification so that this doesn’t repeat itself. The attitude toward devoted MKs who led the left during that period must be corrected.”

The police said in response, “It isn’t clear why a choice was made to deal with irrelevant details of police preparations for violent disturbances that took place at the start of the decade, rather than dealing with police achievements and function during this period and at thousands of other events over the past few years. In any case, the Israel Police will continue to deal with substantive issues that come to its attention, to preserve public order and provide protection for all Israeli citizens, regardless of their political or religious identity.”