Things have been relatively calm in Israel for the past several weeks, and President Reuven Rivlin aims to keep them that way. To do that, Rivlin plans to meet Wednesday with the leaders of the various religious groups in Israel, as well as with Israel’s Chief Rabbis, in order to emphasize the importance of keeping the peace.
As Pesach approaches, Israeli security officials have expressed concern that radical Muslim groups will use the increased numbers of Jews visiting the Old City, and especially the Kosel and the areas near Har Habayis, to fan the flames of incitement. In past years, Arabs have lobbed rocks and stones on Jews who gathered at the Kosel in response to supposed “provocations” by Jews, and on Monday, Israel Radio quoted security sources as saying that figures like Raed Salah, the head of the Northern Islamic Movement, were planning to increase the level of tension in the Old City.
Speaking Monday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that Salah, who in the past has been convicted and jailed for starting riots, should go back to prison. “We are aware of attempts by Salah to fuel the tensions on Har Habayis ahead of Pesach,” Netanyahu said during the weekly Cabinet meeting “He is a one-man powder keg. I request that security officials and the justice minister take action to keep him away [from Yerushalayim]. He should be in jail already.”
Rivlin intends to keep that from happening. On Wednesday, he plans to meet with Chief Ashkenazic Rabbi David Lau, along with the heads of the Druze, Greek Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant religious groups. Also invited to the meeting are the heads of the Islamic Sharia courts.
Rivlin will meet the group at his residence, and each will have an opportunity to speak. According to his office, “Rivlin and representatives of the different faiths will address the meeting, followed by a discussion between the participants on the issue of the need for tolerance and mutual respect between different faith communities.”