A Likud MK threatened on Thursday to stop voting with the coalition unless the government advances a bill he submitted to get the Shin Bet security agency involved in combating crime in the Arab community.
Eliyahu Revivo, a freshman lawmaker, declared that he would no longer feel bound to vote with the coalition until the legislation went forward.
“I came to the Knesset with the aim of restoring security to the citizens of Israel, and to do so I raised this bill, along with several other proposals related to law and order, to involve the Shin Bet in fighting serious crime. But to my sorrow, this government is not pushing it forward despite all my efforts to speak to the decision-makers,” Revivo wrote on Twitter.
His bill was rejected in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation due to opposition from Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara and from the Shin Bet.
Several coalition members including National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir have pushed for the Shin Bet’s involvement in combating crime, particularly in Arab communities where deadly violence has claimed many lives in recent years.
The Shin Bet is generally tasked only with fighting nationalistically motivated crime and many Arab leaders oppose the agency’s involvement in non-terror-related matters.
Senior officials in the Shin Bet are reportedly also vehemently opposed to the agency’s involvement in the fight against criminal organizations, worrying that it might not even be legal to employ the tools it uses in the fight against Palestinian terror on civilians and that it could be harmful to do so.
Revivo is the brother of Lod Mayor Yair Revivo. In 2021, the so-called mixed city saw some of the worst ethnic violence between Arab and Jewish Israeli citizens for decades.
Many Arab Israeli residents of Lod despise Revivo, a former Likud party election campaign chief who they say has incited against them and pursues policies that seek to expel them from the city.
The Lod mayor indicated he was behind his brother’s threats and appeared to issue a threat of his own.
“Get ready for a coalition of 63; I have recruited one vote and will soon have four more,” he wrote on Wednesday.
The current government has a majority of 64 MKs in the 120-seat parliament.
Likud reacted angrily to Eliyahu Revivo’s statement, warning that he could lose his other Knesset positions as coalition coordinator in the Finance Ministry and as chairman of the committee on foreign workers.
“One who views himself as free from responsibility to the coalition should also view himself as free of coalition roles,” wrote coalition chairman Ofir Katz.
The threat by Revivo came after an errant bullet shot during an apparent gun fight struck the nightstand of a journalist for the Israel Hayom newspaper as she lay in bed late Wednesday.
“The bullet entered my bedroom and missed me by centimeters,” Ofra Lax wrote on her Twitter account. “How does this happen in a city and in Israel?”
Police later arrested 13 suspects over the gunfire, all but two of whom were later released. The exchange was believed to be part of a dispute between gangs, according to Channel 12 news.
Revivo’s challenge is the latest to rock Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right and religious coalition, which has recently seen boycotts from Ben Gvir’s party and threats from ultra-Orthodox factions over budget disputes.
The efforts to get the Shin Bet involved are the latest in a raft of proposed measures to tackle rising crime in the Arab community. On Monday Ben Gvir said he would appoint a policy coordinator to help address the rampant bloodshed.
The minister has also pushed controversial plans for the creation of an armed volunteer civilian force that can be used for riot control during times of increased tensions between Jews and Arabs, though critics have accused him of trying to establish a private militia.
According to the Abraham Initiatives anti-violence monitor, 92 Arabs have been killed in violent circumstances since the start of the year, a major leap from the 34 homicides up to this point in 2022. Police, politicians and community leaders have struggled over the past several years to rein in the criminal activity driving the spiking violence, which has appeared to ramp up in recent months.
Analysts say the killings have been driven by underworld violence fueled by powerful gangs engaged in extortion, loan sharking, protection rackets and other criminal activities. Many of the shootings are suspected to be part of turf wars between the rival syndicates.
Community leaders blame longstanding neglect by the government and a failure by police to properly investigate criminal incidents as they do in Jewish towns.
Nonetheless, they’ve pushed back against the heavy-handed approach of Ben Gvir, a disciple of the late racist rabbi Meir Kahane with a long history of anti-Arab rhetoric.