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His followers chanted “death to Arabs”.
Now that he had become Israel’s third power and its most popular leader, Itamar Ben-Gvirhe is trying to reinvent himself as a more “conventional” politician, his supporters chant “death to terrorists” at rallies.
The unprecedented success of the far-right, Jewish supremacist and anti-Arab alliance in the parliamentary elections in Israel Religious Zionism achieved what seemed impossible just over a year ago: Benjamin Netanyahu can form the government again.
With all votes counted in the country’s fifth general election in four years, Netanyahu’s Likud won with 32 seats.
Current Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid, head of the second political force Yesh Atid, conceded defeat and congratulated Netanyahu.
Thanks to the relationship forged with Religious Zionism and other ultra-Orthodox formations, Netanyahu would get up to 64 seats out of 120 in the Knesset, a comfortable governing majority.
However, its stability will depend on an openly racist ultra-nationalist alliance, whose most popular leader is a man who has boasted for years that he has a photo in his living room of the Jewish fundamentalist who committed the massacre at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. .
What is religious zionism
Parties that make Religious Zionism (Otsma Yehudit, Noam and the Religious Zionist Party) has so far been marginal in Israeli politics.
The traditional right turned their backs on them because of their radical postulates and their anti-Arab rhetoric, too extreme even for the former “pope” of the extreme (albeit secular) Israeli right, Avigdor Lieberman.
The coalition with Likud to return Netanyahu to power, however, socially rehabilitated them to the extent that to double its presence in the Israeli parliament from 6 to 14 seats.
Although he is officially number two in the alliance, Itamar Ben-Gvir is a true star of religious Zionism, a coalition magnet for votes.
Convicted in the past for racism and hate speech, I-Gvirthe leader of Otsmá Yehudit (Jewish Power), lives in a Jewish settlement on the West Bank and is known for his provocations and outbursts.
His ideas are so radical that the army exempted him from mandatory military service.
Last month, grabbed the headlines by pulling out a gun in the Palestinian settlement of Seij Jarrah, in occupied East Jerusalem, where he was met with stoning. Ben-Gvir asked the police to shoot the culprits.
The 46-year-old ultra politician, who now wants to enter the government and take over the interior ministry, was a follower of the late ultra-nationalist Rabbi Meir Kahane.
He was a member of the Kach party founded by Kahane, which was banned by anti-terrorism laws in 1994.
In the same year, another of its members, Baruch Goldstein, entered a mosque in Hebron and killed 29 Palestinians who were praying and wounded more than a hundred.
His portrait hung in the Ben-Gvir hall until 2020, shortly before he entered parliament.
“Kahanism won. Israel is now approaching a right-wing, religious and authoritarian revolution“, laments the Israeli daily in its editorial Haaretz.
In 1995, Ben-Gvir became famous for stealing a topper from the official car of then-Prime Minister Isaac Rabin. “We got to his car, and we will get to it soon,” he said then.
Two weeks later, Rabin was assassinated by a Jewish extremist who opposed peace talks with the Palestinians.
The far right promised to “work for all of Israel, even for those who hate me.”
However, when the first election results were announced last Tuesday, he also said: “it’s time to return to being the masters of this country”.
According to his interpretation, the Palestinians are occupying the lands that belong to the Jews, that is, the “land owners”.
Soon after, his followers concentrated on Sei Jarrah, throwing provocations and stones towards the Palestinian territories.
Among the ideas defended by religious Zionism is expulsion of “disloyal” politicians and civilians from the country, political control of the judicial system and annexation of Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
At the end of August, Netanyahu himself, who was ousted from power by a center-left coalition a little over a year ago, brokered a deal between Ben-Gvir and his political rival, Bezalel Smotrichleaders of the Religious Zionist Party, to ensure that they run together in the elections.
It’s the third game on the platform Noahopenly anti-LGBTI.
Without this agreement, it is very possible that the three far-right formations would have a weaker result and that Likud would have less chance of forming the government again.
If Ben-Gvir wants to control the police, Smotrich’s supporters hope to see him as defense minister.
Netanyahu (73) is one of the most controversial political figures in Israel.
Hated by many on the left and center, he nevertheless arouses passion among Likud’s base.
A staunch defender of the construction of settlements on the West Bank, occupied since the Six-Day War (1967), opposes the creation of a Palestinian statea formula supported by most of the international community, including the government of Joe Biden in the USA.
Netanyahu is currently on trial for bribery, fraud and abuse of trustcharges he denies.
His new allies have promised legislative reform to stop the proceedings against him.
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