The spiritual head of the coalition that will soon form part of Netanyahu’s administration is Rabbi Dov Lior.
Itamar Ben-Gvir, a far-right politician, is expected to be appointed Israel’s next minister of national security, and Rabbi Dov Lior, his spiritual adviser and ally, has come under scrutiny for his potential “racist” influence on the new administration.
The far-right Religious Zionism coalition, which consists of the three parties Jewish Power, Noam, and Religious Zionism, is spiritually led by Lior, a supporter of the ethnic cleansing of Arab Muslims.
Following Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu, the political coalition is now the second-largest bloc in the governing coalition after winning 14 seats in the Israeli parliament earlier this month, more than any religious-nationalist party in the nation’s history. The parties are currently engaged in negotiations to form a government with Netanyahu’s Likud, reportedly gaining control over several important state institutions.
After the election results were announced, Lior spoke at the coalition’s press conference and urged Israelis to vote for it.
Lior is frank about politics, and he has frequently pushed the idea that the Jews alone are the rightful owners of the “Western Land of Israel,” which refers to all of ancient Palestine.
He asserts that the so-called “Eastern Land of Israel,” which is currently the Kingdom of Jordan and, in his opinion, also belongs to Jews, is less holy and potentially vulnerable. According to Lior, leaving the “Western Land of Israel” is sinful.
Lior does not acknowledge the right of Palestinians to own land and encourages the construction of unauthorized settlements on Palestinian territory.
Following the 1995 murder of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Lior’s name was included on a list of rabbis who were said to have ruled that Rabin was a traitor deserving of death.
The Jewish Power party’s leader, Itamar Ben-Gvir, threatened to harm Rabin in a television interview, but he wasn’t prosecuted because he was a minor at the time. Ben-Gvir and Lior later developed a enduring friendship.
In the occupied city of Hebron, Lior served as the rabbi of the Kiryat Arba illegal settlement from 1987 to 2015. In 1994, Baruch Goldstein, one of his students, shot and killed 29 Palestinians inside the Abrahamic Mosque in Hebron. Rabbi Lior later referred to Goldstein as “holier than all the Holocaust martyrs”.
In 2011, he expressed written support for the racist and genocidal book “The King’s Torah” by the rabbis Yitzhak Shapira and Yosef Elitzur, which, among other things, supports the killing of non-Jewish babies before they mature into adults and pose a risk to Jews.
As a result of Rabbi Lior’s refusal to provide testimony, the Israeli police launched an investigation into him for possible incitement and issued an arrest warrant. Following widespread demonstrations by far-right settlers against the arrest warrant, Lior eventually consented to a two-hour interview with the police and was freed without being charged.
Lior issued a “psak halacha” (religious ruling) in July 2014, during the Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip, allowing for the destruction of the entire Gaza Strip and relieving Israeli soldiers of the responsibility to distinguish between combatants and non-combatants.
He declared that it was acceptable to massacre innocent bystanders and destroy Gaza.