Noting that security takes precedence, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended the Security Council’s decision to outlaw the Islamic Movement in Israel.
The declaration means “that any entity or person belonging to this organization henceforth, as well as any person who gives it service, or who acts on its behalf, will be committing a criminal offense and is subject to imprisonment. It will also be possible to seize all property belonging to the organization.”
The northern branch, headed by Sheikh Raad Salah, is a sister movement of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, the Israeli government stressed, and is “a separatist-racist organization that does not recognize the institutions of the State of Israel, denies its right to exist and calls for the establishment of an Islamic caliphate in its place.” The Islamic Movement claims it just provides social services and representation for Muslims in Israel.
“For years, the northern branch of the Islamic Movement has led a mendacious campaign of incitement under the heading ‘Al Aqsa is in danger’ that falsely accuses Israel of intending to harm the Al Aqsa Mosque and violate the status-quo,” the Israeli government said in announcing the decision. “In this context, the northern branch has established a network of paid activists (Mourabitoun / Mourabitat) in order to initiate provocations on the Temple Mount. This activity has led to a significant increase in tension on the Temple Mount. A significant portion of recent terrorist attacks have been committed against the background of this incitement and propaganda.”
Salah said in a statement that the Islamic Movement “will remain steadfast through its message and commitment to Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque” and claimed the group will work “to remove the injustice against the group within the framework of the law and other legitimate means.”
Hamas called the declaration a “new crime” aimed “at neutralizing Palestinian masses.”
Knesset member Taleb Abu Arar of the Joint (Arab) List said that Israel had “declared war on the Arab community in Israel, and Israel had to bear the consequences.”
Netanyahu said the reasoning behind the move is simple: “Democracy must defend itself.”
“It must defend itself against those who strive to subvert it. The northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel is undermining the state. It incites violence against innocent people. It has close ties with the Hamas terrorist organization and it seeks to subvert the state in order to establish an Islamic caliphate in its place,” the prime minister said.
“As the one who is responsible for the security of the state, I will not allow this. And therefore, the Security Cabinet, under my leadership, decided to outlaw the northern branch of the Islamic Movement.”
Netanyahu added that “we have nothing against Islam” and “we have nothing against the Muslim citizens of Israel, who enjoy full equal rights, and the great majority of whom are law-abiding.”
“But we will continue to act against those who incite and who encourage terrorism, wherever they are,” he added. “Our goal is to prevent incitement which contributes to terrorist attacks against innocent people; our goal is to defend the State of Israel. This is the obligation of any responsible leadership and it is my obligation.”