Far-Right March Tests New Israeli Coalition, Amid Hamas Threats


JERUSALEM — Far-right Jewish activists marched by way of Palestinian areas of Jerusalem on Tuesday night after receiving permission from Israel’s new coalition authorities, angering components of the alliance, prompting threats from the militant group Hamas, and giving the federal government a primary check of its unity.

The march is a rescheduled model of an aborted far-right procession initially deliberate for final month, which the group cited to justify firing rockets towards Jerusalem on May 10, setting off an 11-day air war between Hamas and Israel.

Waving Israeli flags, marchers streamed previous Damascus Gate outdoors Jerusalem’s Old City, pausing to bop in a plaza central to Palestinian life that was off-limits to Palestinians for a lot of the month of Ramadan. Many marchers had been chanting, “The nation of Israel is alive.” Some youthful boys could possibly be heard shouting threats to Palestinians, together with, “Death to Arabs!”

The police had been out in pressure, forcing Palestinian residents away from the route of the march aside from individuals who personal or work in outlets within the space. Several bystanders had been detained by officers. One Palestinian man was filmed being overwhelmed by officers as they cleared the world to make method for the marchers.

The state of affairs highlighted the frailties and contradictions of the brand new coalition, which on Sunday night time changed Israel’s longest-serving chief, Benjamin Netanyahu, in a confidence vote in Parliament that passed by just one vote — 60 to 59, with one abstention. The bloc is an unwieldy alliance of the laborious proper, the left and the middle, in addition to, for the primary time ever, an impartial Arab social gathering, sharing little widespread floor past a need to maintain Mr. Netanyahu from returning to energy.

For right-wing and plenty of centrist members of the alliance, together with Naftali Bennett, the brand new hard-right prime minister, the march is a matter of nationwide pleasure: a celebration of their proper to stroll by way of areas of Jerusalem captured by Israel through the 1967 Arab-Israeli battle, which Israel now considers a part of its undivided capital. Known as a “flags march,” the occasion occurs every year, and options 1000’s of marchers waving Israeli flags, however was aborted in May due to the rocket hearth from Gaza.

One of the final acts of the Netanyahu authorities was to reschedule this yr’s aborted march for Tuesday. The decision was upheld on his first day in workplace by Omer Bar-Lev, the brand new center-left minister for public safety — to the reward of his new right-wing allies.

“I congratulate public security minister Omer Bar-Lev for his decision to hold the flag dance tomorrow,” tweeted Nir Orbach, a hard-right member of the coalition who virtually dropped out of the alliance earlier than the boldness vote. “The flag dance is part of the culture of religious Zionism and is held regularly. It does not need to be a political dance or proof of governance, it needs to be a display of joy.”

But to Arab and left-wing members of the coalition, it’s a provocative gesture. It offends Palestinians, who don’t have fun the seize of East Jerusalem, which remains to be thought of occupied by a lot of the world, and who hope it is going to in the future type the capital of a Palestinian state. Palestinian households residing on the route of the march usually board up their homes and shops in anticipation of abuse and violence from the marchers.

In the build-up to the march, the principle United Nations envoy within the area, Tor Wennesland, warned of rising tensions and requested all sides to “avoid any provocations that could lead to another round of confrontation.”

The U.S. State Department barred its workers from getting into the Old City of Jerusalem on Tuesday, the place the marchers are scheduled to proceed by way of Palestinian neighborhoods on their approach to the Western Wall, a sacred web site in Judaism.

Inter-communal violence between Jews and Arabs in Jerusalem and throughout Israel fashioned the backdrop to the current battle, and a few concern a resurgence.

Mossi Raz, a lawmaker from Meretz, a left-wing social gathering that controls three ministries within the new authorities, in contrast the march to holding a pleasure parade in an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood.

“If we know it is dangerous, why do we need it?” he mentioned in a radio interview on Tuesday. “They are interested in provocation.”

Mansour Abbas, the chief of Raam, an Arab Islamist social gathering inside the coalition, mentioned he had not raised the problem with Mr. Bennett, and downplayed the thought of letting it turn out to be a wedge between the coalition companions.

“If we quarrel over everything, there is no doubt that this coalition will fall apart,” Mr. Abbas mentioned in a radio interview on Tuesday. But he nonetheless additionally referred to as the march a provocation. “I hope it will pass without escalation but Jerusalem is a sensitive city,” he mentioned. “The whole world looks at what is happening there and reacts to it.”

The march already dangers one other escalation in preventing with Hamas, which threatened a violent response, whereas nonetheless hinting that it could not resort to one thing as drastic as rocket hearth.

“What is certain is we can’t be silent in the face of the flags march, which is deeply provocative and part of the occupation’s internal politics,” mentioned Mohammad Hamada, a spokesman for the militant group. “If the occupation carries out this arrogance, we have several options in front of us. Armed resistance from Gaza is not the only option. We have the Jerusalem and West Bank fronts, where we can participate in popular resistance. But we also do not rule out armed resistance.”

On Tuesday, fires broke out in southern Israel, which Israeli firefighters attributed to incendiary balloons launched by militants in Gaza.

Gaza has barely begun to get better from last month’s fighting, which killed no less than 250 Palestinians and 13 Israelis, and broken greater than 16,000 properties, 28 medical amenities, and water and sewage works in Gaza, in response to the United Nations. Rebuilding has but to restart in earnest, and Israel and Egypt, which management entry to Gaza, are nonetheless withholding key monetary and materials help — all components that some analysts consider will make Hamas cautious of scary Israel into one other spherical of airstrikes.

But others anticipate that Hamas will need to give an early check to the brand new authorities. And having tried to ascertain itself as a symbolic standard-bearer for Palestinians in Jerusalem through the battle in May, Hamas leaders might not need to again down so shortly.

For its half, the brand new authorities is underneath strain to keep away from showing to capitulate to Hamas.

“Israel cannot be a hostage of a terrorist organization,” Amos Yadlin, the previous head of Israeli army intelligence, mentioned in a radio interview on Tuesday. “As far as Hamas is concerned, it dictates to Israel what to do in Jerusalem — it must be shown that it did not win here.”

Adam Rasgon and Myra Noveck contributed reporting.





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