Itongadol.- The Shin Bet security service is against outlawing the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, which is headed by Sheikh Raed Salah, Haaretz has learned.
Against Netanyahu\’s wishes, Shin Bet opposes outlawing Islamic Movement
The Shin Bet’s position was conveyed to an interagency team that was established to consider policy toward Salah as a result of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s desire to outlaw his movement. Haaretz had earlier reported that at a cabinet meeting in May, the prime minister was informed that the Justice Ministry opposed such a move.
Netanyahu is said to have responded angrily noting that in the past there had been no problem declaring extremist right-wing Rabbi Meir Kahane’s Kach movement an illegal organization. Therefore, the prime minister said, there shouldn’t be a problem doing with same with respect to Sheikh Salah’s group.
“[Israelis] cannot reconcile themselves with calls to kidnap IDF soldiers who protect us all,” Netanyahu said in a public appearance in June. “In many instances, the group standing behind such calls is the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement, which unceasingly preaches against the State of Israel, and its people identify with terrorist organizations like Hamas.” At the time, Netanyahu said that he was working to have the group declared beyond the bounds of the law.
Now, however, Haaretz has learned that the issue has been advanced due to opposition on the Shin Bet’s part. Two meetings of the interagency team have been held on the matter and the Shin Bet has informed the team that the information that it has collected on the Islamic Movement does not link the group to actual violent activity or the transfer of funds to other entities that fund or carry out terrorist activity.
Shin Bet sources note that members of the Islamic Movement receive ongoing legal advice and know how to negotiate the thin line between what is legal and what is not. The interagency team has not yet concluded its work, however, and the Shin Bet and the Israel Police are still exploring legal grounds that may be pursued. One of the directions that is being explored is an investigation of how the Islamic Movement is funded in an effort to link it to Hamas groups abroad.
The Shin Bet did not comment for this article and despite repeated requests, the Prime Minister’s Office refused to comment.