Ben Gvir, police in a previous standoff
Ben Gvir, police in a previous standoff Israel news photo: Flash 90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reportedly asked the Ministry of Public Security, which is in charge of Israel's police, to postpone the march planned for Sunday by nationalist activists at the Shiloach neighborhood (Silwan village) in Jerusalem. The Prime Minister's bureau did not deny the reports that it was trying to prevent the march from taking place, despite its previous authorization by the police.

The police, for their part, informally asked the march's organizers Friday to postpone the event. An unnamed police officer told organizers Itamar Ben Gvir and Baruch Marzel that the march could damage Israel diplomatically if it takes place while US Middle East envoy George Mitchell is in the region. “Mitchell doesn't like this march and it could place Israel in an uncomfortable situation,” the police officer said.   

Late Saturday night, the Ministry of Public Security stated that the march would take place after all. Police estimated that it would not involve violence and the Attorney General had reportedly assessed that the High Court would not accept a cancellation of the march.

Ben Gvir: march is on

March organizer Itamar Ben-Gvir said Saturday evening that he had contacted the Attorney General and and the State Ombudsman and asked them to warn Netanyahu that his intervention in the police's professional considerations in the matter of Sunday's march was illegal.

He said that the Prime Minister “would not have considered” intervening in police decisions regarding other disputed marches, such as the Gay Parade through Jerusalem or the leftist demonstration at Shimon HaTzaddik neighborhood. “the Prime Minister does not have the authority to silence our voices,” he stated. “We will march through the village Sunday and make it clear that Israel is the boss ion Jerusalem.”

A bureaucratic announcement of a routine zoning decision sparked a major crisis between Israel and the US in March. Top US officials including the Secretary of State said that they believed Israel had purposely made the announcement when US Vice President Joe Biden was in Jerusalem, in order to embarrass him.

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