Liberman moves to outlaw Islamic Movement’s northern branch
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Liberman moves to outlaw Islamic Movement’s northern branch

Yisrael Beytenu submits bill seeking to ban radical group; Netanyahu recently voiced support for efforts

Lazar Berman is a former breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman speaks during the Foreign Affairs and Security Committee meeting at the Knesset discussing Operation Protective Edge on August 4, 2014. (photo credit: Flash 90)
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman speaks during the Foreign Affairs and Security Committee meeting at the Knesset discussing Operation Protective Edge on August 4, 2014. (photo credit: Flash 90)

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman initiated a legislative effort to ban the radical northern branch of the Islamic Movement.

On the instructions of Liberman, his Knesset whip MK Alex Miller submitted a bill seeking to outlaw the group, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Tuesday.

“Recently we have witnessed the strengthening of radical Islam in our region, spreading massive death and destruction, while destroying the rule of law,” the bill reads. “The northern branch of the Islamic Movement operates openly under the sovereignty of the State of Israel, while cynically taking advantage of the institutions and basic values of a Jewish and democratic state.”

The bill accused the group of cooperation with Hamas. “Over time, we have witnessed the activities of the northern branch leading to the outbreak of violence and unrest among the Arab minority in Israel, while maintaining close relations with the terror organization Hamas. These activities are even more destructive, since they are done from within the institutions of the state.”

The Islamic Movement’s northern branch is led by extremist Arab-Israeli cleric Sheikh Raed Salah, who has been convicted in Israel on a number of charges, including incitement to violence and spitting on a police officer. The organization is tolerated in Israel but is under constant surveillance because of its ideological and believed institutional links with Hamas, as well as with other Muslim groups worldwide.

Sheikh Raed Salah, head of the radical wing of the Islamic Movement in Israel, outside Ramla prison near Tel Aviv in 2010. (photo credit: Yossi Zeliger/Flash 90)
Sheikh Raed Salah, head of the radical wing of the Islamic Movement in Israel, outside Ramla prison near Tel Aviv in 2010. (photo credit: Yossi Zeliger/Flash 90)

Earlier this month, Salah’s deputy in the Islamic Movement, Sheikh Kamal Katib, said on Palestinian Authority TV that he hoped Jerusalem would be the capital of the “coming righteous Islamic caliphate,” as well as the Palestinian state.

Katib also said that “ISIS is a small group that was created by the West as a pretext to come to the Islamic countries of the East,” according to a translation by the Washington-based Middle East Media Research Institute.

Liberman is not the first politician to call for outlawing the northern branch.

In June, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu charged that the movement was behind rallies supporting the kidnapping of Israel soldiers, and directed the relevant authorities to consider declaring the northern branch of the movement an illegal organization. The move would give security agencies wide-ranging tools to investigate the organization.

During a May cabinet meeting, Netanyahu brought up the idea of banning the group, but was told that the Justice Ministry opposed the move.

Then-prime minister Ariel Sharon also looked into the possibility in 2002, according to Haaretz, but did not pursue the matter.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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