Israel’s Knesset passes bill to extend national security minister’s powers to police

Itamar Ben-Gvir (Ahmad Gharabli - AFP)

Middle East Monitor  /  December 20, 2022

The Knesset (Israel’s parliament) on Tuesday approved a controversial bill in its 1st reading to allow the upcoming national security minister to extend his powers to the police, reports Anadolu Agency.

Far-right politician Itamar Ben-Gvir, the leader of the Jewish Strength Party, is set to become the national security minister in the upcoming government of Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu.

The bill was approved by 63 lawmakers against 53 in the 120-seat Knesset.

Under the bill, the police and police commissioner would be subordinate to the national security minister and under the government’s authority. It also grants powers to the minister to direct the police general policy, including its priorities and action plans.

During Tuesday’s session, Ben-Gvir slammed lawmakers who oppose the bill, describing them as undemocratic, backward and illiberal.

Ben-Gvir holds far-right views on the Palestinians. He has repeatedly joined Israeli settlers in storming the flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque complex in occupied East Jerusalem.

He had previously called for the displacement of Palestinians and caused a wave of violence in East Jerusalem after setting up an office in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.

Last month, Israeli President Isaac Herzog said in a leaked audio that “the whole world is worried” about the far-right views of Ben-Gvir.

Netanyahu’s deadline to form the ends on December 21, where he has signed coalition agreements with extremist and far-right parties to join his Cabinet.

According to Israeli media, Netanyahu is expected to inform Herzog on December 21 of his success of forming a government.

Palestinians warn that Netanyahu’s upcoming government will be the most radical.