Photo Credit: Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90
National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir caressing a policeman in southern Tel Aviv after the clashes with Eritrean illegal migrants, September 3, 2023.

The disagreement between Otzma Yehudit Chairman Itamar Ben Gvir and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the prison conditions of Arab terrorists continues. On Wednesday, at a ceremony for newly promoted police officers, the minister of national security said, “Regarding the challenges of governance, too, the Israeli government must step up, and I will not accept a situation whereby security prisons are run like summer camps and cursed terrorists or members of crime families that you invested your souls in arresting will receive deluxe conditions that only encourage them and their relatives to continue committing crimes.”

On Tuesday, at the conclusion of a debate of the Security-Political Cabinet, it was reported that until another debate on the issue is held in October there will be no changes in the frequency of security prisoners’ family visits. The decision flew in the face of Ben Gvir’s order to reduce those visits to the minimum prescribed by law, once every two months. After Netanyahu’s intervention, the visits were restored to once a month.


On Wednesday night, the Otzma Yehudit Knesset faction chairman Yitzhak Kroizer announced at the end of the faction’s meeting that Otzma MKs are no longer bound by coalition discipline, given Prime Minister Netanyahu’s refusal to accede to Minister Ben Gvir’s requests regarding the conditions of security prisoners.

“It is completely clear to me that changes are not made all at once and the timing must be picked carefully, but I do not accept that they always tell me, ‘Minister, now is not the time, Ramadan is coming up, Minister, now is not the time, there’s a big holiday coming, Minister, now is not the time, the Jewish holidays are coming,’ and after the high holidays I know what they’ll say, ‘Minister Now is not the time, Hanukkah is coming,’” Ben Gvir said to the officers he was promoting, adding, “There is never a good time to make big changes but the time is now!”

Ben Gvir promised “an end for the celebration and summer camps in the prisons, and the continuation of the steps I have taken, such as shutting down the prisoners’ bakeries, reducing the duration of showers, ending mouth and jaw treatments at the expense of the Israeli taxpayer, as well as canceling the possibility of early release for terrorists. This is not only moral, but also logical, Jewish, and correct.

“In what country does the person who murdered a baby girl get the status of a spokesman for his fellow prisoners, many hours of trips and sports in the yard, and a bar serving sweets and lamb? It is also a risk to human lives and support to terrorism, since according to the Shin Bet’s data, those who cause the worst harm are precisely those who received prison visits of relatives, and of released terrorists.”

Ben Gvir said defiantly: “I say to the dear Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, we have no mandate not to address and change the conditions of the terrorists. If we don’t make a change, then why did we establish a government in the first place?”

MK Kroizer reiterated on Wednesday: “Netanyahu smears the religious Zionist MKs and innocents like Ohad Tal (Religious Zionism) fall in his trap. I appreciate the Prime Minister, but if he decides to adopt parts of the Oslo path or interferes with Minister Ben Gvir’s carrying out policy, it is clear that Otzma Yehudit will respond.”

MK Tal on Wednesday morning accused Ben Gvir of rocking the boat needlessly and praised his own party’s more cooperative behavior.

Meanwhile, Religious Zionism Chairman Bezalel Smotrich’s much-heralded plan to boost Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria has been frozen by the IDF, even though Smotrich, who also serves as an adjunct minister in the defense ministry, was supposed to be running the civil administration in the liberated territories. Let’s see how long his cooperative behavior persists…

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