Far-right party set to gain new influence after Israeli vote

Far-right party set to gain new influence after Israeli vote

JERUSALEM — An alliance of far-right groups including openly racist and homophobic candidates appears poised to enter Israel’s parliament, possibly as an indispensable member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition, according to exit polls Tuesday.

The Religious Zionist Party includes a new incarnation of the Kahanist movement, a Jewish extremist group outlawed as terrorists by Israel, the United States and other Western countries decades ago over its incitement to violence against Arabs.

Exit polls by Israel’s three main television channels projected the Religious Zionist Party will win six to seven seats, the best-ever showing by an extreme right-wing party. With Netanyahu and his opponents deadlocked after four elections in two years, he will likely need the group if he succeeds in assembling a narrow majority in the 120-member Knesset, Israel’s parliament.

Its rise heralds a further shift to the right in Israel, where parties that support Jewish settlements and oppose the creation of a Palestinian state already dominate the political scene. A solidly right-wing government would likely find itself on a collision course with U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration, which has pressed for the revival of peace efforts.

The Religious Zionist Party is led by Bezalel Smotrich, a longtime activist and former transport minister who has organized anti-gay protests and recently compared gay marriage to incest. In 2016, he tweeted in support of segregating Jewish and Arab women in maternity wards.

“It’s only natural my wife would not want to lie next to someone who just gave birth to a baby that might murder her baby in another 20 years,” he wrote.

He has also expressed hostility to more liberal strains of Judaism and said Israel should be governed by religious law.

He is allied with Itamar Ben Gvir, head of the far-right Jewish Power party. He is a disciple of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, who incited violence against Arabs, called for Israel to be governed by Jewish religious law and advocated the expulsion of Arabs and other non-Jews from Israel and the occupied territories. Joining them is the openly homophobic Noam faction.

As a teenager in the 1990s, Ben Gvir became active in the Kach movement founded by Kahane, who was assassinated by an Egyptian-American in New York in 1990.

In a TV interview in 1995, Ben Gvir boasted of stripping an ornament off then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s Cadillac, saying “We’ll get Rabin too.” Weeks later, Rabin was assassinated by a Jewish extremist opposed to his peace efforts with the Palestinians. Ben Gvir later became a lawyer who represented Jewish extremists suspected of attacking Palestinians.

Until recently, he had a portrait hanging in his living room of Baruch Goldstein, a Kahane disciple who gunned down 29 Palestinians as they prayed in a West Bank mosque in 1994. Ben Gvir has said he favours the expulsion of Arabs who are hostile to the state.

In the lead-up to the election Ben Gvir sought to distance himself from Kahane’s most extreme views. In an interview with Channel 13 after the exit polls, he said Kahane had done “many good things,” adding: “I don’t agree with everything Kahane said.”

The National Religious Party is a strong supporter of Jewish settlements and of annexing the occupied West Bank, which Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war. The Palestinians want the West Bank to form the main part of their future state and view the settlements as an obstacle to peace, a position with wide international support.

Netanyahu pressed the three far-right factions to unite to ensure they would pass the minimum electoral threshold. They fell short in last year’s election, meaning votes that could have helped Netanyahu went to waste. Now he will need them if he hopes to remain in office and pursue immunity from prosecution on a raft of corruption charges.

Their presence in what would likely be a narrow coalition government has raised alarms across Israel’s political spectrum, with critics arguing that Netanyahu will be beholden to their radical agenda for his political survival.

“The Kahanists want to join the government not just for the ministers’ plush seats, the salary and car, an army of aides and funding for their supporters. They have an agenda,” Nahum Barnea, a veteran columnist for the Yediot Aharonot newspaper, wrote ahead of the election.

“First of all, it means freedom for Jewish terrorists to operate in the territories. Second, it means destroying the justice system. Third, it means apartheid within Israel; racial separation at hospitals, universities, the civil service and the (military). Fourth, it means gender discrimination. Fifth, it means enforcing national-Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) religious codes. They aren’t playing around.”

Joseph Krauss, The Associated Press

Israel

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Red Deer Rebels will have three new assistant coaches when the WHL regular season starts on Friday. Brad Flynn (left), will be on the bench alongside fellow assistant Ryan Colville (right) head coach Brent Sutter (middle). (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Sutter steps down as Red Deer Rebels head coach

Red Deer Rebels Owner, GM and head coach Brent Sutter has stepped… Continue reading

Premier Jason Kenney announced $200 million more money that will benefit seniors living in continuing care on Wednesday. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta’s in-school rapid screening test program expanding

Alberta’s in-school rapid screening test program will expand to as many as… Continue reading

Parents and students learned Tuesday what the coming school year will look like. It's pretty much back to business as usual, said Education Minister Adriana LaGrange. School precautions include frequent cleaning, keeping students in the same groups where possible, planning the school day to allow for physical distancing and staying home when sick. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta’s largest school board says no to United Conservative draft school curriculum

CALGARY — Alberta’s largest school board says it will not use the… Continue reading

Cowboy Kicks, originally scheduled for May 5, will now take place Sept. 18. (Contributed photo)
Westerner Park’s Cowboy Kicks fundraiser moved to Sept. 18

A major fundraiser for Westerner Park and the Canadian Pro Rodeo Sport… Continue reading

Red Deer Rebels forward Josh Tarzwell tries to tip a point shot past Lethbridge Hurricanes goalie Car Tetachuk in WHL action Friday night at the Centrium. (Photo by ROB WALLATOR/Red Deer Rebels)
Red Deer Rebels struggles continue, drop seventh straight to Hurricanes

Hurricanes score three power-play goals in 6-3 win

Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan is among those who have signed an open letter criticizing the government’s return to stricter health measures. (Advocate file photo).
Updated: Kenney tells UCP caucus COVID-19 dissent OK, breaking health rules means expulsion

15 MLAs released letter on Wednesday critical of new health restrictions

Owner of 4 Point Taekwondo Kevin Mejia holds a board as organizer and martial artist Kevin Olsen breaks it in Edmonton on Friday, April 9, 2021. One hundred martial artists from around the world, will be breaking a board for an event called "Break for a Breakthrough." The idea is for martial artists to unite and re-engage with the arts because they may have drifted away or lost enthusiasm as a result of the pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Break for a Breakthrough: Canadian hosts international martial arts demonstration

EDMONTON — Whether he’s breaking a wooden board, a clay tile, cement… Continue reading

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, Duke of Ediburgh, left, look on as Manitoba Beaver peaks out of his box at a July 14, 1970 ceremony in which Hudson's Bay Company observed an old tradition. The death of Prince Philip has reminded a small French village in Manitoban about how a royal visit half a century ago made the community the centre of frog racing in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Prince Philip’s frog-jumping legacy in a Manitoba French community

WINNIPEG — The death of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, has reminded… Continue reading

The Yukon provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, Monday July 6, 2020. Yukon residents will head to the polls on Monday for Canada's fourth election held during the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Yukon residents set to vote in fourth election held in Canada during pandemic

WHITEHORSE — Yukon residents will head to the polls on Monday for… Continue reading

Conservative leader Erin O'Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 6, 2020. Top Tory leaders of past and present will speak with supporters today about what a conservative economic recovery from COVID-19 could look like. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
O’Toole, former PM Harper speak on ‘build back right’ for pandemic recovery

OTTAWA — Top Tory leaders of the past and present will speak… Continue reading

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa Tuesday, March 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Liberals set to debate universal basic income, pharmacare, OAS hike

OTTAWA — Grassroots Liberals have taken up Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s call… Continue reading

Students enter the Pierre Laporte Secondary School as secondary school students return to class full time during the COVID-19 pandemic in Montreal, Monday, March 29, 2021. Pandemic-fuelled frustration has some teens expressing anger in unhealthy ways after a year of missed social connections that would typically help them mature and regulate their emotions, says a psychiatrist calling for more education on coping skills as part of the school curriculum. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Teach students coping skills to deal with anger, including during pandemic: doctor

Pandemic-fuelled frustration has some teens expressing anger in unhealthy ways after a… Continue reading

In this file photo, a lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018. (By THE CANADIAN PRESS)
No winning ticket for Friday’s $25 million Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the $25 million jackpot… Continue reading

jobs - T - 3-6-2020
Finding a job: 3 job search truisms you need to accept

A job search has many moving parts; your mindset is the most… Continue reading

Most Read