Far-right extremist to be Israel’s national security minister

extremist Israeli politician Itamar Ben-Gvir, who has a Long record of anti-Arab rhetoric and stuntsFormer Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will become the country’s next national security minister, according to what is expected to be a number of coalition deals struck by Likud party.

Likud on Friday announced an agreement with Ben-Gvir’s Jewish Power party. Talks are ongoing with three other potential far-right and ultra-conservative coalition partners. If successful, Netanyahu would return to the prime minister’s office and preside over the most right-wing and religious government in Israel’s history.

Giving Ben-Gvir such a sensitive role raises concerns of a further escalation of Israeli-Palestinian tensions. Ben-Gvir and his allies hope to give impunity to Israeli soldiers who fire on Palestinians, deport rival lawmakers and impose the death penalty on Palestinians convicted of attacks on Jews.

Ben-Gvir is a disciple of Meir Kahane, a racist rabbi who was banned from parliament and whose Kach party was labeled a terrorist group by the US before his assassination in New York in 1990.

Before Israel’s election on 1 November, Ben-Gvir made headlines for his anti-Palestinian speeches and stunts, including brandishing a pistol and encouraging police to open fire on Palestinian stone-pelters in an already tense Jerusalem neighborhood.

Before becoming a lawyer and entering politics, he was convicted of crimes that include inciting racism and supporting a terrorist organization.

In his new role, Ben-Gvir will be in charge of the police, which, among other things, has enabled him to implement some of the harsher policies against Palestinians he has advocated for years.

Likud said on Friday that under the coalition deal, the Ministry of Internal Security would be renamed the Ministry of National Security and given expanded powers.

As head of the ministry, Ben-Gvir will oversee the police and paramilitary border police who work alongside Israeli troops in Palestinian population centers.

Likud MP Yaron Levin praised the agreement, which was signed on Thursday, as “the first agreement on the way to establishing a stable right-wing government led by Benjamin Netanyahu”.

In 2021, Ben-Gvir entered parliament for the first time since his Jewish Power party merged with the Religious Zionism party. Ben-Gvir’s closest political ally, religious Zionist leader Bezalel Smotrich, is in separate talks with Likud, which emerged as the largest party in the polls.

Netanyahu balked at some of the demands, such as Smotrich’s demand for the Defense Ministry. Negotiations focused on the terms under which Smotrich would become finance minister.

Read full story at the guardian.com

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