Justice Minister Tzipi Livni has met with settler leaders on two occasions in recent weeks in an effort to discuss ways to curb “price tag” attacks carried out by right wing extremists.
A source in the Justice Ministry told Ha’aretz that Livni plans to take a firm stance against perpetrators of such attacks – which often take the form of graffiti, vandalism or tire slashing – and asked moderate settler leaders to back her up.
Among those Livni has met with are Yesha Council chairman Avi Roeh, former chairman Danny Dayan and Amana head Zeev (Zambish) Hever. The Yesha Council represents the political interests of the settler movement, and Amana is the political arm of Gush Emunim. Hever himself had his tires slashed in a price tag attack last year.
“Price tag attacks harm the entire Israeli society, go against Israel’s democratic values, and represent the worst forms of racism,” Livni reportedly said at the meetings. “The goal of such actions is to inflame passions and bring about violence. Once they were limited to the West Bank, but today they take place all over the country.”
Livni told the leaders that she has begun formulating plans to battle the phenomenon, saying she wanted to give law enforcement agencies more effective tools with which to apprehend the perpetrators and bring them to justice.
In recent years, Israel’s Shin Bet security service has recommended defining price-tag attacks as acts of terrorism, but the previous government refused the proposal.
Dayan told Haaretz that he has been pushing for law enforcement to take a heavy-handed approach against extremists, but was opposed to defining them as terrorists.
According to a police report released last month, 56 price tag attacks against Palestinians occurred in Jerusalem and the surrounding area over the past year, marking a 100 percent increase compared to 2011.
Price tag is a term used by right-wing Jewish extremists to describe revenge attacks carried out against the Palestinian population and the military as “punishment” for Israeli government decisions they perceive as being oriented against settlers.