It was announced this morning that Israel’s security cabinet has banned the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, an organisation linked to both Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood and accused of inciting much of the current violence in the region.
Although ostensibly providing educational and religious services to Arab citizens of Israel, a statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office said that, “For years, the Islamic Movement’s northern branch has been waging a campaign of deceitful incitement” against Israel, in particular “falsely accusing it [Israel] of intending to harm the al-Aqsa mosque and to violate the status quo there.” The Temple Mount in Jerusalem, which includes the al-Aqsa mosque, has been a focal point in wave of violence which has killed at least 14 Israelis since the start of October. Israeli leaders have repeatedly publicly denied accusations that it intends to alter the holy site’s status quo.
The Prime Minister’s Office emphasised that banning the organisation “is not directed against the Arab and Muslim public in Israel, the great majority of which upholds the laws of the state and disavows incitement and terrorism.” However, the northern branch of the Islamic Movement “is a separatist and racist group, which does not recognize the institutions of the State of Israel, denies its right to exist, and calls for the reestablishment of an Islamic Caliphate.”
The organisation’s leader Sheikh Raed Salah was banned from the UK for “virulent anti-Semitism” although he managed to enter Britain in 2011 before being deported. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn subsequently described Salah as “a very honoured citizen” and invited Salah to meet him in parliament. Salah has been convicted in Israel of funding Hamas and contacting an Iranian agent. Salah has also claimed that Israel was behind the 9/11 attacks in the United States and that Jews use children’s blood for ritual purposes.
The banning order means that any individual or organisation found assisting the northern branch will be committing a crime and liable to imprisonment.