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Lapid accuses marchers of trying to ‘burn’ capital

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent based in New York

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid says that the participants in today’s march of Jewish nationalists around Jerusalem’s Old City are trying to “burn” the capital and the government will not allow them to do so.

“The flag march today is simply an irresponsible, horrible step. These are extremists who are trying to stage provocations that will cause violence,” Lapid says in a briefing with journalists.

The foreign minister expresses his support for Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s decision not to allow far-right MK Itamar Ben Gvir to attend the rally, noting that concerns for public safety trump the parliamentary immunity that would normally allow a lawmaker to ignore a police directive barring him from attending such a march.

In fiery remarks against the nationalist marchers, Lapid says that “what they want is for there to be violence and for fire to burn Jerusalem and we will not allow them and their politics to burn Jerusalem.”

“They are horribly straining our security forces who are already stretched to their limit,” Lapid says, adding that Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai told him as much.

The march also causes Israel a major headache in the diplomatic arena as the conversation about the events in Jerusalem turn from one about Muslim rioters acting against a state that governs based on the rule of law to one about the extremists on both sides.

“It causes Israel to look like a country of extremists,” Lapid says.

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