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Cabinet to consider creation of ‘national guard’ under Ben-Gvir

The new force is a “basic and vital need for the State of Israel,” says Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir.

Israeli Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir at the 74th anniversary Independence Day ceremony in Jerusalem on May 4, 2022. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
Israeli Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir at the 74th anniversary Independence Day ceremony in Jerusalem on May 4, 2022. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

A proposal to create a national guard force under the auspices of Israel’s National Security Ministry will be put before the weekly Cabinet meeting for approval on Sunday, according to Israeli media reports.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir his support for the proposal in exchange for the latter’s agreement not to bolt the coalition in protest over Netanyahu’s decision to delay legislation related to judicial reform, according to the reports.

A letter published by Ben-Gvir’s Otzma Yehudit Party, dated March 27 and signed by the national security minister and Netanyahu, states that changes to the law will be made to allow for the force’s creation.

It was unclear what the relationship would be, if any, between the new force and the Israel National Guard created in 2022 by then-Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Public Security Minister Omer Barlev.

That force, established in the wake of “Operation Guardian of the Walls,” comprises the conscript and professional Border Police forces, a Border Police reserve force and a large volunteer force, with the latter two to be expanded in 2023 and the following years.

Bennett called the creation of the force the “closing of a circle.”

“I came into office as Israel was licking its wounds from ‘Operation Guardians of the Walls.’ We saw severe disturbances in Lod, Acre and around the country, and everyone got it. We all understood that while we were talking about Iran and Hezbollah, the problem begins at home,” he said.

Bennett and Barlev’s Israel National Guard was placed under the command of the Border Police, which in turn answered to Israel Police Commissioner Yaakov Shabtai.

However, the proposal to be put before the Cabinet on Sunday places the new force under Ben-Gvir’s direct authority.

“What Ben-Gvir wants to do is create something separate,” a police source told Channel 12. “Not to take from the police the existing force, but rather to create something new. It’s two different things.”

If a new national guard force is created, the existing force will be renamed, the source added.

On Wednesday, Ben-Gvir said, “The national guard is a basic and vital need for the State of Israel, without which we cannot maintain the security of our citizens. The guard is necessary so that we can fight terrorism, the phenomenon of protection [rackets] and nationalist crime—to restore sovereignty to all Israeli cities.”

Under the proposal, Ben-Gvir is to establish a committee comprising representatives of various security forces and ministries that will determine the national guard’s duties, powers and personnel. It will present its recommendations within 60 days.

Ben-Gvir tweeted on Monday following his meeting with Netanyahu: “The reform will pass. The National Guard will be established. The budget I demanded for the Ministry of National Security will be passed in its entirety. No one will scare us. No one will succeed in changing the people’s decision. Repeat after me: De-Mo-Cra-Cy!”

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