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Police Ready for Riots as Otzma LeYisrael Prepares to March

Despite possible Arab violence, a visit by Otzma LeYisrael to an Arab village Tuesday will go on as planned.
By Annie Lubin
First Publish: 1/15/2013, 9:20 AM

Israeli border police (Illustration)
Israeli border police (Illustration)
Reuters

Amid calls to halt a planned visit by right-wing activists and party leaders to an Arab village Tuesday, the march will go on as planned, despite concern over possible Arab violence. 

Police are preparing for large protests and likely riots as Otzma LeYisrael supporters and party leaders carry on with a march through the streets of the Arab village of Musmus in Wadi Ara, about 20 miles southeast of Haifa, as part of an election rally to publicize their campaign slogan "Without duties, there are no rights."

Aimed at the country's Arab population, the march is part of the party's larger plan to create a report on illegal construction in Arab communities -- their answer to the Sasson report, which investigated construction in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. 

MK Dov Khenin (Hadash) urged Internal Security Minister Yitzchak Aharonovitch on Monday night to prevent the march on the grounds that it was based on incitement and hatred. 

"The goal of the Kahanists is not to convince the Arab residents of the village," said Khenin. "Their only goal is to provoke, incite riots, deepen the hatred, and try to profit electorally from this hatred. This is not about freedom of speech, but elimination of racial provocation," said Khenin. 

The march was approved by Israeli Police on Sunday and police said they will have large forces on hand for the event, which is expected to draw a large counter-protest. Similar marches by far-right activists in the past, such as the 2010 rally in the city of Umm al-Fahm, also in Wadi Ara, have turned violent.

"This is the message we are talking about throughout the campaign." said party leader MK Michael Ben-Ari. "It cannot be that entire cities and many villages, especially in the Negev and Galilee, conduct themselves as if they were a separate country. Whoever wants rights must pay property taxes, must construct legal buildings and must be faithful to Israel. Just like the Sasson report on the outposts in Judea and Samaria, there must be a report on the illegal construction in the Negev and the Galilee."

A statement allegedly issued by the Village Council of Musmus and publicized by Otzma supporters warned Israeli police that the police alone will bear the consequences of the visit and that village leaders are not taking responsibility for any unruliness or violence that occurs during the march. "Musmus will not act in any lesser way than how the other Arab villages acted -- when they expelled the human waste -- the Zionist right -- and drove them away from their land. No hellos and no welcomes for them on our land. You are the strangers, the orphans without roots." 

Israel’s Arab population is the main focus of Otzma LeYisrael's Knesset campaign. Party ads call on Arabs to pay taxes and to be held accountable to the same laws as Israelis, garnering criticism from Arab and left-wing parties for supposedly inciting racism. 

"Tens of thousands of illegal structures and dozens of illegal towns built by Arabs within Israel remain standing, and the selective demolition targets Jews," the party has stated.