Israel prohibits Zionist protests against contentious Biden itinerary

Head of the Regavim movement said the move was tantamount to Israeli acknowledgement of a divided capital.  

By Debbie Reiss, World Israel News

The Israel Police has denied a request to hold a protest in eastern Jerusalem over President Joe Biden’s controversial visit there later this week, sparking outrage from a coalition of right wing groups that said the rejection represents a “complete breakdown” of Israeli governance.

Biden is due to visit the Augusta Victoria Hospital on Friday, marking the first time a sitting U.S. president makes a formal visit eastern Jerusalem without Israeli escort. The U.S. reportedly denied Israel’s request to send Israeli officials to accompany the American president.

A coalition of organizations, including the Regavim movement and the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), submitted a petition to demonstrate along Biden’s planned route on Friday. The petition called “to clearly demonstrate the Zionist view on Israeli sovereignty over its unified capital, and to sound the alarm against the government’s failure to express the basic Zionist principle of Jerusalem as the undivided, eternal capital of the sovereign State of Israel.”

In response, Israel Police said that all roads would be closed during the presidential visit and suggested that the groups either gather in the area after Biden concludes his visit or hold a protest at an alternate location.

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The Regavim movement, which monitors Palestinian construction in Israel, including Judea and Samaria, said that allowing Biden to visit the contested area was tantamount to denying Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital.

“[Prime Minister Yair] Lapid is agreeing that eastern Jerusalem is not part of Israel’s capital,” the group’s director Meir Deutsch said. “This government is re-dividing our capital – in violation of U.S. law and Israeli law.”

“This is an outrageous capitulation and we demand the right to express our objection by standing proud and tall, in great numbers, to make the Zionist presence in Israel’s capital seen and heard far and wide,” he said.

He went on to say that barring protests was “nothing short of a complete breakdown of the system.”

Deutsch added that the decision would be appealed at the High Court of Justice.

In an open letter published in The Jewish Press, former UN envoy Danny Danon said that the visit will be viewed “as an attempt to undermine Israel’s sovereignty over its own capital.”

“It will symbolize support for the PA in their efforts to divide Jerusalem and their consistent claims that Israel has no historical or religious connection to the city,” Danon wrote, going so far as to claim that it would also “negate” the Trump administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

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The Sovereignty Movement, The Bithonistim and Ad Kan groups also joined the request to demonstrate the presidential visit.

Since former president Donald Trump’s formal recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Israeli government officials have joined U.S. officials on all visits in the capital.

Israel asked that Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz or a lower-ranking official from the Ministry of Health accompany Biden to eastern Jerusalem, but the request was rejected with the excuse that it was a “private visit,” not a political one, according to unnamed Israeli officials who spoke to the Axios news site.