Netanyahu to Israeli Arabs: I Will Not Accept Lawless State Within Israel

At site of Tel Aviv shooting, prime minister vows to increase enforcement in Arab communities 'with Islamist propaganda, with plenty of weapons, with constant crime.'

Ilan Lior
Ilan Lior
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the site of the Tel Aviv shooting, January 2, 2016.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the site of the Tel Aviv shooting, January 2, 2016.Credit: Ofer Vaknin
Ilan Lior
Ilan Lior

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke at the site of Friday's Tel Aviv shooting Saturday night and called on Israel's Muslim citizens to integrate in Israeli society.

"Whoever wants to be Israeli must be Israeli all the way," he said.

"I will not accept two states within Israel," Netanyahu said. Israel, he said, cannot be a lawful state for some and lawless for others, where "there are enclaves without law enforcement, with Islamist propaganda, with plenty of weapons often fired during wedding celebrations, with constant crime."

Two people were killed and seven others were wounded in Friday's shooting at the Simta bar on the corner of Dizengoff and Gordon St. in central Tel Aviv. The funerals for the two victims will each take place Sunday at 3:00 P.M.

Netanyahu opened his remarks expressing his condolences to the victims' families and said that the police and Shin Bet were working to apprehend the suspected assailant, 29-year-old Mashat Melhem. Netanyahu said that more pictures of Melhem will soon be released, calling on the public to remain vigilant.

Netanyahu said he appreciates the Arab community's condemnation of the shooting, adding that he "expects all Arab Knesset members, without exception, to condemn the murder, without hesitation or rhetorical phrasing."

Netanyahu said that while many Israeli Muslims have come out against violence, "we all know that there is wild incitement of radical Islam against the State of Israel within the Muslim sector." He added that his government has acted against this incitement, citing the recent ban of the Islamic Movement's northern branch.

Netanyahu commented on the Israel Defense Forces' growing integration and highlighted the Christian, Druze and Bedouin communities in northern Israel, and the Muslim communities throughout the country. Netanyahu called on all Israeli citizens, specifically Muslims, to follow the road of peaceful coexistence rather than hatred.

Netanyahu said that he agreed with Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich on a new plan to allocate funds and resources to dramatically increase police enforcement in Arab communities throughout Israel, namely in the Galilee, the Negev and the Triangle.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan joined Netanyahu at the scene of the attack and spoke of the challenges authorities face recently in dealing with a "new kind" of attacks with no organization to go after or any way of preempting their actions.

"The police arrived on the scene yesterday less than three minutes after the incident," said Erdan. "We're talking about an incident that lasted about 20 seconds. Israel police arrived and conducted themselves exactly as needed."

The public security minister added that a new bill would be introduced in the Knesset that would nullify current regulations stipulating that some security guards who work armed aren't allowed to take their weapons home.

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog also visited the makeshift memorial outside the pub in Tel Aviv.

"We must display zero patience toward those who choose the path of terror and immediately invest all our resources and energy to investigate his (the attacker's) and his action's connection to ISIS," said Herzog.

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