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January 1, 2023 1:36 pm
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Israel’s National Security Minister Ben-Gvir Pledges ‘Full Support’ to Police Officers

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Israeli far-right lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir tours Mahane Yehuda market in the run up to Israel’s elections in Jerusalem, September 30, 2022. Photo: REUTERS/Amir Cohen

i24News – Israel’s first-ever National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir vowed to take a tough stance against Palestinian terrorism in his inauguration speech, amid numerous power handovers between new ministers in Netanyahu’s government and incumbents taking place on Sunday.

“It must be clear to anyone who wants to do harm that they will find our security services powerful, focused and capable of defending themselves, and it must be clear that security force personnel who defend their own lives will receive support altogether,” Ben-Gvir said. “Any terrorist who seeks to harm you loses his life, and I will fully support you in this war,” he continued, addressing the assembled police and security personnel directly.

His predecessor Omer Barlev called on the police and security forces under the command of the ministry to defend their professional position.

“Keep a strong spine, be a rock in the face of headwinds, stand up for your professional opinion – it’s your duty,” Barlev said, referring to the expanded powers Ben-Gvir has been given. He added that all officers who report to the new National Security Ministry welcome Israelis of all kinds. “Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druze and Circassians serve together, all Israelis, all working for one purpose: the internal security of the citizens of the state,” he added, throwing a jab at the nationalist ideology of the Jewish Power party of Ben-Gvir.

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Earlier, outgoing defense minister Benny Gantz wished his successor Yoav Gallant success in his duties, while warning him against political interference in the army during a ceremony which took place at the army headquarters in Tel Aviv. “Build a high and solid wall of protection between the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) and political involvement in operational decisions, and do not allow the disintegration of defense into sub-units subject to political interference and disconnected from the chain of command,” Gantz said.

The new Tourism Minister, Haim Katz, has promised to increase investment in regions of the country which, according to him, have been underserved, in particular the West Bank, the scene of repeated terrorist attacks, which he compares to the pastoral Italian countryside of Tuscany.

In the Finance Ministry, incoming Bezalel Smotrich praised outgoing Avigdor Lieberman for some of his policies. He also pledged to work for all the citizens of Israel, specifying however that he was not certain that “all (his) measures will be popular.” Lieberman alluded to coalition agreements signed by the new government that provide for increased benefits for ultra-Orthodox people, many of whom do not work.

In his first move in office, Smotrich nixed the tax on sugary drinks as well as disposable plastic utensils and flatware.

At the Housing Ministry, the new Minister Yitzhak Goldknopf (United Torah Judaism) indicated that he intended to strengthen construction in the West Bank and provide more housing for former IDF fighters. “It is unacceptable that those who devote the best years of their lives to the security of the citizens of Israel need financial assistance when buying a house,” he said.

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