Ben Gvir tries to calm concerned Israelis: ‘I’ve matured’

Ben Gvir tries to calm concerned Israelis: ‘I’ve matured’
Ben Gvir tries to calm concerned Israelis: ‘I’ve matured’

Ben Gvir tries to calm concerned Israelis: ‘I’ve matured’

A far-right politician preparing to take a senior position in the next Israeli government tried yesterday to reassure minorities in Israel that he would protect them, but made no mention of the Palestinians, who particularly feel that his ascension poses a threat to them.

After Religious Zionism’s success in last week’s elections, the party led by ultra-nationalist settlers in the West Bank has become former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s strongest potential ally in the coalition.

One of the party’s leaders, Itamar Ben Gvir, has come under intense scrutiny in Israel and abroad for a story that includes membership in the banned armed Kach movement, criminal convictions for anti-Arab incitement and obstruction of gay rallies.

Ben Gvir, 46, said in a front-page article in the top-circulating newspaper Israel Hayom: “I have matured. I became temperate and realized that life is more complicated.”

The article came a day after another party colleague, Ben Gvir, angered the centre-left party by claiming the state had played a role in the 1995 assassination of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin by a Jewish fanatic who was attempting to to stop the handing over of land to the Palestinians.

Bezalel Smotrich, speaking at a memorial service in parliament, said the right was right in protesting Rabin’s policies, adding that the security services used “irresponsible manipulations, which to this day have not been fully exposed, to embolden the killer.”

His comments seemed to imply that the Shin Bet secret service was behind the instructions of a far-right agent in the run-up to the assassination.

In an article titled “A Letter to My Left Brothers,” Ben Gvir made no mention of the US-sponsored Israeli talks on Palestinian statehood, which have stalled for years.

“Religious Zionism”, like other right-wing Israeli parties, opposes the establishment of a Palestinian state. Ben Gvir also called for the dismantling of the Palestinian Authority, which governs parts of the West Bank, a move that would effectively return the Palestinians to unlimited Israeli rule with no national rights. Ben Gvir, who wants to lead the police force, focused on domestic issues and wrote that he would “fight the crime plaguing Israel’s Arabs,” a minority he once called for expulsion.

“Religious Zionism”, like other right-wing Israeli parties, opposes the establishment of a Palestinian state. Ben Gvir also called for the dissolution of the Palestinian Authority, which governs parts of the West Bank.

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