Israel Bans Palestinian Flags in Public Spaces

A man waves the Palestinian flag

As part of the promised crackdown by Israel’s new ultra-conservative government, the national security has instructed police to prohibit the display of Palestinian flags in public spaces.

Since taking office late last month, Itamar Ben-Gvir has taken a number of punitive measures against the Palestinians, and the latest move is unsurprising with such a move having been touted by the government prior to taking office.

Ben-Gvir said on Twitter that he has ordered the Israel police to prohibit the public display of any PLO flag indicating affiliation with a terrorist organization and to stop any incitement against the State of Israel.

The Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu has moved swiftly against the Palestinians in response for Palestinian efforts to have the United Nations’ top judicial authority render an opinion on Israel’s 55-year military occupation of the West Bank.

It has withheld nearly $40m (£32.9m) in Palestinian tax revenues and said it would transfer the money to victims of Palestinian militant attacks. It has also stripped Palestinian officials of VIP privileges and disrupted a meeting of Palestinian parents discussing the education of their children, claiming it was illegally funded by the Palestinian Authority.

Last week, Ben-Gvir, a far-right extremist notorious for his anti-Arab comments, visited Jerusalem’s most sensitive sacred site, drawing considerable worldwide condemnation.

Israel reportedly believed that the Palestinian flag represented a violent organization comparable to Hamas or Hezbollah. After Israel and the Palestinians signed a series of interim peace agreements known as the Oslo accords, however, the flag was recognized as that of the Palestinian Authority, which was established to rule Gaza and parts of the occupied West Bank. Israel opposes any formal PA activity in East Jerusalem, and in the past, police have disrupted gatherings they believed to be affiliated with the PA.

Netanyahu informed his cabinet on Sunday that the actions taken against the Palestinians were in response to what he termed a “extremely anti-Israel” move by the United Nations.