Omer Barlev
Omer BarlevMarc Israel Sellem

Public Security Minister Omer Barlev (Labor) met on Monday with US Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, who is visiting Israel.

Commenting on the meeting on his Twitter account, Barlev said that the senior US official was "interested, among other things, in the settler violence and how to reduce tensions in the region and strengthen the Palestinian Authority."

Barlev wrote, "I told her that increasing the work permits for Palestinians in Israel, both from Judea and Samaria and Gaza, which we are already carrying out, is a key to reducing tensions, just like implementing the plan to establish a joint industrial zone on the outskirts of Gaza and more. American assistance for such projects can help a lot."

The chairman of the Religious Zionist Party, MK Bezalel Smotrich, blasted Barlev for writing the words “settler violence”.

"Listen, I’m sorry for being blunt, but you are simply contemptible. Hundreds of thousands of heroic residents of Judea and Samaria absorb terrorism on a daily basis and have paid a heavy price, and you shed their blood with wretchedness and participate in a false and antisemitic campaign that defames them in order to look enlightened and please a bunch of hypocrites. Shame on you little man. And thank you to Ayelet Shaked, thanks to whom you are a minister."

MK Kathrin Shitrit (Likud) responded, "If I had not known him, I would have been sure that this was the Minister of Public Security of Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority. The weakness of these people is simply unbelievable."

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked distanced herself from Minister Barlev's remarks and told him, "You are confused, the settlers are the salt of the earth, the successors of the pioneers from the valley and the mountain. The violence over which we must be shocked is the dozens of incidents of rock-throwing and firing on Jews that happen every day – only because they are Jews, and all this with the encouragement and support of the PA. I recommend that you talk about this violence with Ms. Nuland."

Yisrael Gantz, chairman of the Binyamin Regional Council, demanded that Prime Minister Naftali Bennett respond to the words of the Minister of Public Security. "Barlev incites and permits the blood of the residents of Judea and Samaria and of IDF soldiers. It is amazing how in the face of dozens of Arab terrorist incidents every day, the Minister of Public Security chooses to attack the residents of Judea and Samaria using falsities. I demand that Prime Minister Bennett dissociate himself from Barlev's remarks and publicly condemn them. There is a limit."

The head of the Efrat local council, Oded Revivi, said, "The Minister of Public Security should have replied to her that there are many more settlers who employ tens of thousands of Palestinians full time. He should have told her about the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians employed in Israel who are receiving medical treatment. He should not have let her stain all the 'settlers.'"

"The minister's silence is akin to consent and it well represents the sense of a campaign of demonization on the part of some members of the US administration and some MKs against the settlers, 99.99% of whom do not use violence against Palestinians, even if their wives left them or their parents were angry the night before. Until a few months ago, it seemed that the settlers were no longer a demon, there should not be people who are trying to bring them back to be viewed that way," Revivi added.

MK Yomtob Kalfon (Yamina) responded to Barlev and said, "A minister in the Israeli government is supposed to defend the Israeli interest and not cooperate with the false narrative of our enemies. The emphasis on 'settler violence' is intended to create a counterweight to the acts of terrorism perpetrated daily by Palestinians against Jews. It is just that there is no symmetry between the murderous Palestinian terrorism funded by the PA, and the vandalism of youths that are on the margins."

The Yesha Council attacked Minister Barlev and said, "Minister Barlev, are you a minister in the Palestinian Authority or in the Israeli government?! Tonight, five Israelis were injured as a result of rock-throwing by violent Arabs. Two weeks ago, a Jew was murdered by an Arab teacher. Minister Barlev, tonight you abandoned the security of your citizens through antisemitic plots. Did you also tell her about the dozens of rocks, the firebombs and the daily terrorist attacks against the civilians, soldiers and police that you are responsible for their safety?! We demand an urgent apology and the Prime Minister's renunciation of this nonsense."