Right-wing MKs plan Old City Muslim Quarter march as police turn to PM
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Right-wing MKs plan Old City Muslim Quarter march as police turn to PM

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Right-wing parliamentarians plan to march on Thursday with Israeli flags in Muslim areas of Jerusalem’s Old City regardless of whether police have authorized the route.
“If the police do not allow the flag march, I intend to exercise my immunity and march,” Religious Zionist Party MK Itamar Ben-Gvir announced on Sunday night.

At issue is a right-wing Israeli flag march to the Western Wall that had initially been scheduled to pass through Damascus Gate and the Muslim Quarter on Jerusalem Day last month, but which was diverted to Jaffa Gate in an attempt to quell the rising violence between Jews and Arabs.

Nationalist groups now want to hold that march along its traditional Damascus Gate route, but police are loath to authorize it fearing that it would reignite last month’s violence.

Police said that based on an operational and intelligence assessment, the parade’s date and route would be approved soon and the recommendation would be forwarded to the upper echelon. This is likely to include Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was involved in rerouting the parade last month.

In an interview with Channel 20, Netanyahu said that the matter was a police decision.

At issue this time is also the fear that Hamas would renew its rocket attacks against Israel if the march takes place.

Ben-Gvir, however, said he believed the police would not let the march go through the Damascus Gate and the Muslim Quarter, and that he planned to take matters into his own hands. He said it was inconceivable that the Israeli government would surrender to Hamas and that Hamas would dictate the agenda.

Every Jew has a right to march through the streets of Jerusalem,” Ben-Gvir said. “I was elected to the Knesset precisely in order to preserve the right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel.”

Earlier in the day, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi wrote a letter to Netanyahu urging him to take steps to ensure that calm was maintained in Jerusalem, although he did not specifically mention the march, according to Channel 12.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz was more blunt. His office sent out a message stating that after a special security assessment with the IDF and the police, Gantz would “demand that the flag parade not be held in Jerusalem” this week.

MK Yair Golan (Meretz) tweeted that the sole intent of the march was to “increase security tensions” and “stick a finger in the eyes of the Arabs.” This is about “hatred,” and those with such hatred should no be allowed to march.

Maj.-Gen. (Ret.) Arieh Amit, formerly head of the Jerusalem District police, told Channel 12 that if a request for this march had landed on his desk, he would have rejected it because it constituted a “real danger to public safety.” This isn’t about Hamas, he said, adding that such a march would “ignite east Jerusalem.”

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