(JTA) — In a New York Times opinion article, Israeli Housing Minister Yoav Gallant wrote his country is committed to promoting its Arab citizens and to fighting extremists within their communities.
In the article published Thursday, Gallant, a reserves major general, justified the banning in November of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel and praised the allocation in December of a $3.8 billion grant for housing in Arab towns as “an important step in the right direction.”
Gallant began his op-ed with a summary of the gunfight that ended with the death earlier this month of Nashat Melhem, an Israeli-Arab terrorist whom police believe killed three people and wounded several other in Tel Aviv.
“Over more than three decades as a combat soldier, I learned that we have no choice but to fight terrorism and cut its branches without hesitation or compromise,” Gallant wrote.
But, “at the same time, we must preserve the rights and freedoms of an open democracy,” he added, which “involves the recognition that the fates of our land’s Jewish inhabitants and its Arab ones are deeply intertwined.”
The northern branch, he wrote, “preach an extremist message, seeking to sow discord among Jews, Christians and Muslims” and to “abuse its democratic privileges by inciting violence,” whereas most Israeli-Arabs “are law-abiding Israeli citizens, men and women who go about their daily lives peacefully and have nothing to do with terrorism,” he wrote.
“Extremism and terrorism will not overpower the government’s resolve, which is to ensure the safety of the Israeli public and provide a prosperous future for our Jewish and Arab citizens,” Gallant concluded.
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