Israel mulls banning Islamic Movement
Leader accused of inciting â€˜holy warâ€™
The move followed the arrest of the movement’s leader, Sheikh Raed Salah, on Tuesday on suspicion of incitement and sedition. Police accused Sheikh Salah of calling for a “religious war” in recent statements in which he warned that
Sheikh Salah was released a few hours later on condition that he stay away from
An Islamic Movement spokesman, Zadi Nujeidat, told the Haaretz newspaper: “We will continue our activities and call for a continued presence in and around the mosque. We are used to arrests.”
The move against the Islamic Movement follows a series of pronouncements from Sheikh Salah, echoing statements from Palestinian officials in the occupied territories, that have infuriated the Israeli government.
This week he called on Muslims who could reach the compound – access to which has been heavily restricted by the Israeli police – to “shield the [al Aqsa] mosque with their bodies”. Sheikh Salah himself has been barred by the courts from entering the Haram compound for several months.
At his annual “Al Aqsa is in danger” rally in his hometown of Umm al Fahm in northern Israel last week, he warned tens of thousands of supporters that Israel was trying to prise away control of the compound from the Islamic religious authorities. He added that, should
Like many other Palestinian leaders, Sheikh Salah fears that, as well as “Judaising” East Jerusalem, Israel is engineering a takeover of the Haram – known to Jews as the Temple Mount because the remains of the destroyed first and second Jewish temples are believed to lie under the mosques.
He has raised repeated concerns that
A delegation of Palestinian leaders from inside
In an interview with Haaretz on Monday, Sheikh Salah also warned against “infiltration of extremist Jewish elements” into the compound – a reference to
Muslim leaders throughout the region have expressed growing concern that the Israeli police are secretly escorting such groups into the compound following a decision by
Palestinians from the West Bank and
During clashes at the compound on Sunday, the Islamic Movement’s deputy, Kamal Khatib, and the Palestinian Authority’s minister in charge of
Calls from Israeli officials for Sheikh Salah’s arrest and restrictions on the Islamic Movement have been growing all week.
The deputy prime minister, Silvan Shalom, of prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, told Israel Radio on Tuesday: “Sheikh Raed Salah should be behind bars.”
The cabinet meeting on Sunday will discuss a law to ban the Islamic Movement being drafted by the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu party of Avigdor Lieberman, the foreign minister. The bill is expected to be presented to ministers a week later.
The interior minister, Eli Yishai, of the Shas party, announced on Tuesday he would withdraw funding for imams who “incited” against
The Islamic Movement has rapidly grown in popularity by focusing on charitable and welfare work and has won control of several councils since the 1980s.
Despite eschewing terrorism, the movement is regarded with great suspicion by Israeli officials, who have shut down its charities and newspaper on several occasions. Sheikh Salah and four other leaders of the Islamic Movement were arrested in 2003 accused of supporting terrorism but released two years later in a plea bargain that significantly reduced the charges.
It is unclear how
Analysts say the government could use the 1945 emergency regulations from British rule but the move would be unlikely to withstand judicial scrutiny. Traditionally, the security establishment has argued that it is better not to push the Islamic Movement underground.
Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth,
A version of this article originally appeared in The National (www.thenational.ae), published in