Ben-Gvir calls for Israeli National Guard to have police-level authority
Israel's extremist national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir is expected on Sunday to present to the cabinet plans for the establishment of a new “National Guard” force.
Under Ben-Gvir's proposal, members of the new force will be granted the same powers as police officers, according to Haaretz.
At least 2,000 National Guard members will answer directly to him and be tasked with tackling "nationalist crime", "terrorism" and "restoring governance where needed", Times of Israel reported a proposal published on Wednesday as saying.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised Ben-Gvir the new civil militia in exchange for an agreement to pause controversial judicial overhaul plans, which have put increasing pressure on the prime minister and caused mass protests across Israel.
In return, Ben-Gvir has granted the government until early May to try and pass the controversial overhaul plans through negotiations and dialogue with the Israeli opposition.
However, civil rights groups have expressed concern that bringing such a force under the control of a minister could politicize policing and undermine law enforcement principles.
Palestinians are also extremely concerned with the prospect that Ben-Gvir could control such a body given his history of incitement against them.
Netanyahu reached a compromise to stay in power & defuse protests by throwing Palestinians to the wolves: allowing Ben Gvir, a convicted terrorist settler, to form a militia in the occupied West Bank. Palestinian blood is all it took to protect “Israeli democracy.” How telling. pic.twitter.com/lOOat55DgK— Nour Odeh 🇵🇸 #NojusticeNopeace (@nour_odeh) March 27, 2023
"Netanyahu reached a compromise to stay in power… by throwing Palestinians to the wolves: allowing Ben Gvir, a convicted terrorist settler, to form a militia in the occupied West Bank. Palestinian blood is all it took to protect 'Israeli democracy'. How telling," Palestinian journalist Nour Odeh tweeted.
In 2008 Ben-Gvir was convicted in a Jerusalem court on racism charges, for supporting a terrorist organisation and for waving a sign that read "Arabs out" as well as having signs in his car that read "Either us or them" and "There is a solution – expel the Arab enemy".
He also called for the killing of Palestinians who throw rocks at soldiers and stripping Palestinians of Israeli citizenship for perceived disloyalty to Israel. More recently, last December, he hailed an Israeli soldier who shot dead an unarmed Palestinian as a "hero".
The establishment of a National Guard operating under his direct control has been high on Ben-Gvir’s list of demands since Israel's current far-right governing coalition took power last November.
Last week, the extremist minister told Netanyahu he would vote down the government’s budget if it did not include provisions for a National Guard.