Ben Gvir and Shabtai
Ben Gvir and ShabtaiFlash 90

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir and Israel Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai met last week following a murder that occurred among Israeli Arabs. In the conversation between the two, they discussed the phenomenon of crime in Arab society and the need to establish a national guard.

Channel 12 News on Tuesday published quotes from the conversation, which include harsh statements made by the Commissioner towards the Arabs in Israel.

According to the report, the Minister of National Security turned to the Commissioner and demanded to understand what steps are being taken regarding the violence in the Arab sector and stated that "it has crossed all boundaries." Commissioner Shabtai replied, "There is nothing to be done. They kill each other. This is the nature of the Arabs". Minister Ben Gvir said in response: "Commissioner, this can be stopped, the murder of both Arabs and Jews must be prevented."

The Arab parties were outraged by the quotes that were published. Ra’am chairman Mansour Abbas said, "We expect the Police Commissioner to retract the obscene things he said about Arab society and apologize to the Arab public or resign from his position. I call on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Isaac Herzog to fully condemn Shabtai's racist statements."

The Israel Police said, "The police are stunned by the fact that the Minister and his office are recording personal conversations between the Minister and the Commissioner and are outraged that things were taken out of context in a conversation that dealt with the patterns of behavior in Arab society, that does not reveal the identity of the murderers even when it is known to the relatives of the victims. This conduct calls into question the police's ability to report to the Minister without fear of sources being revealed and conversations being distorted."

Israel Police spokesman Eli Levi stated that "the comments that were leaked from a personal phone conversation between the Minister of National Security and the Commissioner of the Israel Police are partial and create a distorted picture. The comments were leaked in a tendentious manner with the aim of harming the Commissioner and the Israel Police."

"In the conversation, the Minister and the Commissioner talked about two specific bloody incidents and not about the Arab sector as a whole. Anyone who knows the Commissioner also knows his good and close relations with the Arab sector at all levels," Levi added.

"As a commander in a long line of positions for three decades, the Commissioner has worked for public safety, including the Arab public in Israel, in an egalitarian and respectful manner. From his first day in the position of Commissioner, Kobi Shabtai has set a goal for the Israel Police of fighting crime on the Arab street as a top priority, with an unprecedented investment of resources, technology and manpower. All of these were engaged in a stubborn, determined and uncompromising fight against the crime organizations on the Arab street and the perpetrators of crime in order to strengthen the governance and the sense of security of the public, the majority of which is a normative and law-abiding population."

"Any other interpretation is wrong and serves those who seek to harm the Commissioner in particular and the Israel Police in general. The Commissioner of the Israel Police, Yaakov Shabtai, will continue to act resolutely for the security of Arab society in Israel," concluded the spokesman.

Later on Tuesday night, Shabtai spoke to MK Abbas and stressed his commitment to eradicating crime and increasing the personal security of Arab citizens. He also made clear to Abbas that his words were taken out of context and that there was no intention to insult the Arab citizens whom he sees as partners in efforts to eradicate crime and violence in Arab society.

Abbas took issue with the statements attributed to Commissioner Shabtai and asked him to publicly retract them, and expressed his appreciation for the Commissioner's efforts in the past two years in eradicating crime and violence and for their work together.