With Netanyahu badly in need of support from far-right members of the Keenest to form a coalition government, the next body of leadership in Israel is feared to move the boundaries of extremism to unprecedented levels.
After being elected as Prime Minister to form a government and save Israel from yet a sixth election since 2019, Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu is now unable to form a government unless he aligns with far-right members of the Keenest.
But this will not be without cost for Netanyahu, simply because he will have no choice but to designate top leaders of the far-right party to sensitive positions in his new government, which will, in turn, risk to create an ultra-extremist government. This can very easily explain why Netanyahu is buying more and more time before making the final decision.
It was on this past Friday that Israel’s President Isaac Herzog granted Netanyahu another 10 days to finish forming a government, while indicating concern that the coalition Netanyahu is assembling will be the most right-wing in Israeli history and can therefore damage Israel’s democracy and spark violence in the society.
Who are these Israeli extremist politicians?
Among the major figures of the far-right party in Israel’s Parliament are Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich. Ben-Gvir is one of the most extreme and most racist politicians in Israel. He was convicted in 2007 of supporting a terror organization and inciting racism.
After Netanyahu’s victory in the November election, Ben-Gvir said he wants to be the minister of internal security, a post that would put him in charge of the Israeli police and policies around Jerusalem’s holy sites, including the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
His political partner, Bezalel Smotrich, who is similarly known for his racist ideals and has a history of making racist remarks about Arab citizens of Israel, said he wants to be defense minister, a role that also oversees Israeli policy in the occupied West Bank and Gaza and approves settlement building.
Israel ties with Washington in real danger
By appointing these racist politicians to important positions in his government, Netanyahu is not only setting the stage for internal violence and more division in the Israeli society, but he may also endanger Israel’s relations with its greatest ally, the United States. For years, the US has been Israel’s main political, economic, and military ally, backing it with unparalleled financial support.
U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan have said in separate statements that although the Biden administration is committed to support Israel and even the outcome of the Keenest election, it might have problems working with Ben-Gvir and other right-wing extremists. This is quite understandable due to the fact that Biden is more in favor of peace in regard to the Palestine-Israel issues.
But Both Biden and Netanyahu have every reason to worry about politicians such as Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich coming to power in Israel.
Just to give an example of how extreme are the far-right politicians in Israel, it is worth mentioning that in one of his latest remarks, far-right Israel MK Moshe Gafni from the United Torah Judaism, who is to be part of the next Israeli government, asserted early this week that half of Israelis should go into the army and the other half should go to religious schools and study the Torah.
“When there were bloody wars during the reign of King David, a prophet came to him and said that half the people will study Torah and half will serve in the army, and then they will switch,” Gafni explained, indirectly signaling the emergence of an extremist government in Israel.
These controversial remarks sparked criticism among Israeli officials, with former Chief of Staff of the Israeli Army Gadi Eisenkot, for example, saying that such words reflect a “dangerous trend” that is shaping in Israel.