Netanyahu, Ben-Gvir dispute over Palestine prisoners’ family visits

Middle East Monitor  /  September 2, 2023

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office responded on Friday to National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir’s restrictions on family visits of Palestinian prisoners.

“In response to reports that a decision has been made regarding the security prisoners: this is fake news,” Netanyahu’s office said, referring to a decision declared by Ben-Gvir.

“No decision has yet been made and such a decision will not be made until the special discussion on the issue with the participation of all the security bodies, which Prime Minister Netanyahu set for next week,” Netanyahu’s office explained.

Meanwhile, The Jerusalem Post disclosed that Maariv quoted a senior security official saying that it is important that Netanyahu clarifies that Ben-Gvir cannot do what he wants, especially regarding unchecked statements that cause damage without any security context.

This came after Ben-Gvir declared that Palestinian security prisoners would now be permitted family visits only once every two months, reducing the number previously allowed.

Israeli Public Broadcaster Kan reported that the Israeli National Security Council had instructed the relevant authorities not to follow Ben-Gvir’s instructions until Netanyahu held meetings.

Ben-Gvir’s office responded: “The decision to enforce Israel Prison Service (IPS) regulations and follow the law, by which visitations of terrorists’ families will take place once in two months and not once a month, was made in a work meeting between the national security minister and the IPS chief,” stressing the IPS was “obligated to carry out the order.”

However, The Times of Israel reported Channel 12 quoting a senior security official saying that Ben-Gvir took the decision “without consulting security bodies,” stressing: “It has broad security implications and consultations should be held before making such a decision.”

Netanyahu’s office responded, highlighting that Netanyahu, Defence Minister Yoav Gallant and all security chiefs were “united in their efforts to maintain national security.”