Israel Insists: We Are Sovereign in Jerusalem!

Centrist minister of defense sounds a defiant note in response to Hamas threats and leftist calls to back down in the face of Muslim outcry

By Israel Today Staff | | Topics: Jerusalem
Centrist Minister of Defense Benny Gantz is sounding increasingly right-wing in regards to Jerusalem, perhaps with an eye to the next election.
Centrist Minister of Defense Benny Gantz is sounding increasingly right-wing in regards to Jerusalem, perhaps with an eye to the next election. Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Israel Defense Minister Benny Gantz has positioned himself as a political centrist, but of late has been sounding increasingly conservative (ie. “right-wing”). And the latest tension over the Temple Mount has him again taking a firm stand for Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem.

On Sunday Israel will celebrate Jerusalem Day, a national holiday that marks the liberation of the eastern half of the biblical city and Israel’s reunification of its ancient capital. As such, it is highly controversial in the international community, and seen as an outright provocation by Israel’s Arab Muslim foes.

The main event is a parade of Israeli flags around and through the Old City of Jerusalem that was once a source of pride for most, if not all Israelis, but which today is seen as an act of “right-wing” propaganda.

Many Israelis insist the Jerusalem flag march is a necessary expression of sovereignty at a time when some members of Knesset are ready to capitulate to Muslim demands and threats. Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Hamas, as it does every year, has threatened to launch missiles from the Gaza Strip in response to this “provocation.” Last year, the terror group made good on its promise, sparking a devastating 11-day war that Gantz is certain it won’t want to repeat.

“Last year Hamas decided to fire rockets, and it still regrets that Operation Guardian of the Walls ever happened,” Gantz said in a public statement.

But even if Hamas does truly intend to attack Israel, the defense minister insisted the Jewish state would not be intimidated.

“We will hold whatever kind of march we want to in our capital,” he stressed. “You will not threaten our sovereignty.”

This is likely to become a point of further contention within Israel’s fractured unity coalition.

While Gantz’s remarks fully line up with the positions of the coalition’s right-wing factions, the left-wing flank sees the Jerusalem flag march as unnecessary, and even likens it to incitement to violence.

“This is a provocation, and only serves to endanger both Jewish and Arab lives,” said Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) this week. In the same breath, she defended the right of local Arab activists to march with Palestinian flags on Israeli university campuses.

Zandberg, like many on the far-left, declined to address the fact that the flag march only endangers lives because Muslims respond to it in a violent manner. Gantz is among a growing number of lawmakers who are no longer wiling to encourage such petulant behavior.

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