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Rebel Likud MK threatens to bolt coalition

Lawmaker Eliyahu Revivo wants the Shin Bet to help fight crime in the Arab sector.

MK Eliyahu Revivo attends a committee meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, Dec. 25, 2022. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
MK Eliyahu Revivo attends a committee meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, Dec. 25, 2022. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

Likud lawmaker Eliyahu Revivo tweeted on Thursday that he considers himself “free from coalition commitment” until the government advances his legislation to allow the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) to become more active in fighting crime in the Arab sector.

“I came to the Knesset with the aim of restoring security to the citizens of Israel, and to do so I raised this bill, along with several other proposals related to law and order, to involve the Shin Bet in fighting serious crime,” the freshman lawmaker tweeted.

“But to my sorrow, this government is not pushing it forward despite all my efforts to speak to the decision-makers,” Revivo added.

The Shin Bet is primarily responsible for counterterrorism, counter-espionage and protecting VIPs.

The agency and Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara objected to Revivo’s proposal, which led to the bill’s ultimate rejection by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation.

Shin Bet leaders are reportedly concerned that employing the agency to fight domestic crime would lead to the exposure of its methods, while Baharav-Miara and previous Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit have argued that the Shin Bet can only have a “limited role” in fighting crime.

Crime in the Arab sector has soared.

According to the Abraham Initiatives, a Jewish-Arab organization that promotes Arab integration into Israeli society, 92 Arab Israelis have been killed in criminal violence since the beginning of 2023.

The most recent murder victim was Ayman Zoabi, from the Arab village of Sulam, near Afula in the Jezreel Valley. The spike in violence is attributed to organized crime groups fighting turf battles and trying to kill rivals.

Arab Israelis have called for the government to take stronger measures against the criminal gangs, but are deeply opposed to the Shin Bet being tasked with fighting crime

The government has a majority of 64 MKs in the 120-seat parliament.

Angry Likud officials replied that Revivo could lose his Knesset roles if he follows through on his threats.

“One who views himself as free from responsibility to the coalition should also view himself as free of coalition roles,” said coalition whip MK Ofir Katz.

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