After it was reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to postpone the demand of the Minister of National Security, Itamar Ben-Gvir, to make changes to the conditions of Palestinian prisoners in the Cabinet meeting convened this morning (Tuesday), some of the tensions that occurred in the tense meeting have now leaked.
Ben-Gvir to the legal advisor: "You are an advisor and not a judge"
During the discussion, the government's legal advisor, Gali Baharav-Miara, opposed Ben-Gvir's proposal and explained: "The directive applied to both criminal and security prisoners. Because of the sensitivity of the security prisoners, it has always been judged by the cabinet."
In response, Minister Ben Gvir retorted, "We are only talking about security prisoners – it seems you didn't read carefully?"
The Attorney General did not hold back and responded, "You really have to believe me that I read the law. It's a matter of interpretation in relation to a greater or lesser extent (of visits). Because it has significant security and diplomatic implications, it is discussed in the Cabinet and not decided by the Minister of National Security."
Ben Gvir continued to criticize, saying, "This is a recommendation, and you're an advisor. You don't make decisions, and I don't want to harm you." The Attorney General responded, "The rules do not override the law." Minister Ben-Gvir countered, "But read the material. There is a general directive and a specific directive, and the specific one takes precedence over the general one. In any case, what you're saying here, from my perspective, is just a recommendation." The Attorney General stated, "It's mandatory."
Minister Ben-Gvir: "It's not mandatory; it's a recommendation. But the story here is not about you; it's about the Prime Minister… I entered this ministry after you promised me there would be a change in the situation of the prisoners. With all due respect to all the professional entities here, we were elected to implement policy."
Ben-Gvir to Netanyahu: "You promised me to implement the policy"
At this point, Prime Minister Netanyahu intervened and said, "We will have a discussion after the holidays."
Ben Gvir, who refused to accept the decision, replied, "The problem is that even after the holidays, the professional experts will say it's not the time... It's never the time, and the summer camp continues. Pay attention to the facts; a significant number of terror events are carried out by individuals who visited the prisoners, their family members, and so on. We have 449 of those who visited in prison, and then they carried out attacks or attempted attacks, and add to that terrorists who resumed terrorist activities after being released."
Ben Gvir added further, "This means they see the conditions and are not deterred. It means there is no deterrence in Israeli prisons. It means we cannot continue like this. I was elected to implement a policy. You, too, Prime Minister, promised the people of Israel that you would not fold in the face of terrorists in the prisons and promised me to implement the policy."
"We have reached a moment where a decision must be made"
Netanyahu reiterated his position and said, "We will discuss this after the holidays."
In response to Netanyahu's answer, Minister Ben-Gvir, who didn't like the response, retorted, "The Prime Minister has had enough excuses. If you don't intend to implement the policy we promised, then say so. It's always after the holidays, and after that, there's Hanukkah... We've reached a point where a decision needs to be made."