The new Israeli government approved a controversial demonstration by far-right nationalists and pro-settler groups through the occupied East Jerusalem Old City, where Benjamin Netanyahu handed over power to Prime Minister Naftali Bene In just a few hours, this step may increase tensions with the Palestinians.
It is expected that on Tuesday, several Israeli right-wing groups will participate in the so-called “flag march”, passing through the walled old city Damascus Gate and entering the Muslim quarter, which will cause Hamas to warn that the organization is under siege. The Gaza Strip-if it continues, hostilities will break out again.
This move is because tensions in East Jerusalem are still severe and Israel plans to forcibly deport Palestinian families from Sheikh Jarrah.
After Israel’s 11-day military bombing of the enclave, a fragile ceasefire was reached in the besieged Gaza Strip, killing 253 people, including 66 children. During the escalation of violence, at least 13 Israelis were killed by rockets fired by Palestinian armed groups in Gaza.
The Palestinian factions called for a “day of anger” for the march. Last month, Israel suppressed protesters in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, injuring hundreds of Palestinians.
“This is a provocation to our people, an aggression against our Jerusalem and our holy places,” Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Steyer said of the parade.
According to a statement issued by the Israeli media, after meeting with the Israeli police chief and other security officials, the newly sworn-in Minister of Internal Security Omar Barev approved the march and stated that the police were fully prepared.
“[Great] Efforts are being made to protect the delicate structure of life and public safety,” Barev said.
It is not clear whether participants will be allowed to enter the Muslim quarter of the old city, which is a route previously prohibited by the Israeli police.
As tensions in Jerusalem escalated, the parade originally scheduled for May 10 was diverted at the last minute.
Hamas warned that if it continues, hostilities will restart. Israeli media reported that the military is ready for a possible escalation.
The US Embassy in Jerusalem banned its personnel and their families from entering the Old City on Tuesday “because of calling for the holding of a Jerusalem flag parade and possible counter-demonstrations.”
The march poses a direct challenge to the Bennett government, which won parliamentary approval by 60 votes to 59 on Sunday.
Changing the course or canceling the march may expose the Israeli government to accusations from the opposition Netanyahu and his right-wing allies by granting Hamas the right to veto the Jerusalem incident.
Yoav Segalovitz, the deputy interior minister, hinted at a possible route adjustment. He said that past governments had prevented nationalists from visiting Muslim places during periods of tension.
“The main reason is to consider what is right at this time,” he told Israel’s Kan radio station.
The formation of Bennett’s right-wing, center-wing, left-wing, and Arab party alliances has little in common except for the hope of overthrowing Netanyahu. This limited the alliance-building efforts after the election on March 23. This is the two sides of Israel. The fourth election in the past year.
Minutes after meeting with 49-year-old Bennett, Netanyahu again promised to overthrow his government.
“It will happen sooner than you think,” Netanyahu, 71, said in a public speech to legislators from his right-wing Likud, setting a record for his 12-year tenure.
Since any discord among its members poses a potential threat to its stability, the new Israeli government hopes to focus on domestic reforms and the economy, and avoid issues such as policies towards the Palestinians.