Ben-Gvir wants full control over police as public security minister, sources say

Sources say Ben-Gvir wants commissioner to become his 'assistant' and be in charge of all policies implemented by Israel Police; 'Only in Israel the police manage the minister,' says source within Ben-Gvir's party

Meir Turgeman, Moran Azulay|
Sources involved with coalition negotiations have said that Itamar Ben-Gvir, who is demanding to be given the public security portfolio, wants to be in charge of the policies implemented by the police, potentially compromising its independence.
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  • While coalition negotiations between Likud and Ben-Gvir's Otzma Yehudit party are hitting a few snags along the way, such as Netanyahu's refusal to give them the Negev and Galilee portfolio, there's one area in which they appear to have come to an agreement.
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    טקס השקת רכב קטן מינילנס איחוד הצלה
    טקס השקת רכב קטן מינילנס איחוד הצלה
    Ben Gvir and Shabtai
    (Photo: Yariv Katz)
    If the agreement between Ben-Gvir and Likud is eventually materialized, Public Security Ministry will have full control over the policies of the Israel Police, whereas now that responsibility lies with the commissioner.
    Decisions such as force deployment procedures have so far been dependent on the commissioner alone, but according to the agreement, will be transferred to the public security minister's jurisdiction. Additionally, the Defense Ministry budget will be distributed within the police according to the public security minister's considerations.
    "The meaning of Ben-Gvir's demands is that the commissioner will become the assistant to the minister," a senior police official said. "The powers of the commissioner should be preserved alongside the powers of the minister, in order to maintain the democracy that exists today."
    "Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai thought he would get a fourth term and never imagined he would have to answer to Ben-Gvir," a senior police official said. "He's wary of Ben-Gvir perhaps wanting to appoint a new commissioner. He'll have to work hard to appease him."
    On the other hand, a senior member of Otzma Yehudit said that "in any normal country the minister decides the policy. Only in Israel the police manage the minister, and do not have to obey his decisions."
    Commissioner Shabtai himself denied the reports, insisting he would welcome whoever is appointed for the post.
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    מפכ"ל המשטרה יעקב שבתאי בזירת הפיגוע בעיר העתיקה
    מפכ"ל המשטרה יעקב שבתאי בזירת הפיגוע בעיר העתיקה
    Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai
    (Photo: Yoav Dudkevich)
    The two recently met each other in person after senior officers around Shabtai approached a few officials close to Ben-Gvir - in order to initiate a reconciliation process between him and the commissioner.
    The bad blood between Ben-Gvir and Shabtai is stretching back years. Last year, Shabtai accused Ben-Gvir of wanting to incite violence in mixed cities. Ben-Gvir, meanwhile, threatened to sue Shabtai and tweeted that he is not a film producer and should resign.
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