Former Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich derided Jewish Home Chairman Naftali Bennett Tuesday, calling him "populist" and accusing him of fishing for votes in response to Bennett's statements about crime in the Arab sector.
"It's an unsuccessful statement," Aharonovich stated, while meeting with the Hura Regional Council head, according to NRG. "There's a lot of populism."
"The Arab sector added hundreds of police officers and police stations," he continued. "The problem is not in law enforcement but in government offices."
"The Minister of Economy talks about thieves, giving teenagers employment, and boosting infrastructure and education in order not to come to these places," Aharonovich added. "Anyone who thinks there will be no thieves or burglars at all is making baseless claims. There are also Jewish burglars and thieves. You cannot brand the region and some of its people a certain way."
"All of this is populism and spins to get a few more votes," he concluded.
Aharonovich also addressed controversy regarding Bennett's intention to make MK Ayelet Shaked the new Public Security Minister.
"To appoint a woman as the Minister for Public Security? I'm all for women," he said, adding that "this role is very sensitive and difficult."
Aharonovich said that the best candidate is one who is "the most suitable or appropriate" and that while he "appreciate[s] Ayelet Shaked on a personal level" the "Interior Minister has very big, sensitive, and complex shoes to fill" and that the initiative is "likely just for the sake of 'likes' and 'shares' and to pick up a few more votes."
Aharonovich has become a focal point for criticism over what many perceive as an inadequate response to the constant cycle of violence in Jerusalem – prompting much drama around goings-on in the police and the government over how the attacks have been handled.
Angry protests aimed at Aharonovich erupted in 2014 over the attempted murder of Temple Mount rights activist Yehuda Glick, the murders of 27-year-old construction worker Netanel Arami hy"d and 19-year-old Shelly Dadon hy"d – all of which were played down by the Israel Police and Internal Security Ministry.
Criticism has also been directed at the Israel Police, which has been plagued with ongoing controversy after the successive resignation of six senior officers: Koby Cohen, Niso Shaham, Roni Atiya, Bruno Stein, Menashe Arbiv and Yossi Pariente.
The frustration also stems from the revelation that in June senior police officials reportedly decided to ignore a Moked 100 hotline call from abducted teens Naftali Frankel (16), Eyal Yifrah (19), and Gilad Sha'ar (16) after they reported their own abduction. The teens were murdered shortly after the call. In a similar expose, the Israel Police were found to have known about threats to Glick's life far before his attempted murder in October – but reportedly ignored them.
Aharonovich addressed the controversy as well on Tuesday, sidestepping responsibility for the oversights and commending the Israel Police for cracking down on offenses within its ranks.
"I want to thank the Department of Investigations for their uncompromising professionalism," he said, noting that of the wave of dismissals, "some resigned, some were fired."
"This work is important to clean and purify the organization, and is crucial to Israel," he added, saying "we need to keep" the Israel police.
"I understand the hard feelings of the public to the police, but we have no other police force," he continued.