Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu’s conservative Likud party has signed its first coalition deal with the far-right Jewish Power Party, leaving the ultra-nationalist leader Itamar Ben Gvir the police ministry and a seat in the security cabinet.
“We took a big step tonight towards a full coalition agreement, towards the formation of a full, all-right government,” Ben-Gvir said in a statement Friday.
Netanyahu’s Likud and his religious and far-right allies won one clear victory in the Israeli elections on November 1, which seems to bring an end to nearly four years of political instability.
The deal does not envisage a full and final new government as negotiations with coalition partners drag on. But it shows slow and steady progress toward the formation of a government that looks set to become the farthest right wing in Israel’s history.
Under the terms of the deal, Ben-Gvir — who until last year was best known as a fringe Palestinian-hating religious far-right provocateur — will assume the newly created role of Minister of National Security.
He will also be in charge of the Israel Border Police division in the occupied West Bank, which currently falls under the Defense Ministry, the Times of Israel reported.
In addition, he will take on several newly formed portfolios and positions, including one related to the development of the Naqab (Negev) Desert, another as deputy minister in the Ministry of Economy and the chairman of the Israel Defense Forces Public Security Commission. parliament. , or Knesset.
The deal also includes an agreement to establish a national guard and to expand the mobilization of reserve troops in the Border Police, the Israeli newspaper reported.
There will also be a relaxation of laws around the southern border to allow the opening of fire on “thieves caught stealing weapons from military bases”.
It was not immediately clear what the effect of the amendment would be, as the military was already given more leeway to open fire last year.
Ben-Gvir’s record includes a 2007 conviction for racist incitement against Arabs and support for terrorism, as well as anti-LGBTQ activism.
He says he no longer advocates the expulsion of all Palestinians — only those he considers “traitors” or “terrorists.”
Ben-Gvir, an illegal settler living in the West Bank who has occupied Israel since 1967, opposes a Palestinian state.
He also supports Jewish prayer at Al-Aqsa Mosque, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, going against the established status quo of the site and traditional Orthodox Jewish opposition to prayer there.
The increased presence of far-right Jews trying to pray at the site, protected by Israeli troops, has enraged Palestinians and led to violent clashes.
The inclusion of far-right figures in the coalition government has worried Israel’s Western alliessaid Israeli President Isaac Herzog, whose words were picked up by a microphone he apparently thought was turned off.
Since winning a Knesset seat, Ben-Gvir has pulled a gun on Palestinian parking attendants in Tel Aviv — about which he was questioned by police — and got into a dispute with lawmaker Ayman Odeh, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, when Odeh access to the hospital room of a Palestinian prisoner on hunger strike.
Last month, Ben-Gvir went to the occupied Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem, where Israeli authorities are trying to evict Palestinian families, along with a group of settlers who slashed the tires of Palestinians and tried to storm a family’s home.
When Palestinians responded by throwing stones, he pulled out a gun, despite police presence at the scene.
Ben-Gvir claims that the hands of Israeli policemen and soldiers are tied and he wants to relax the rules so that they can shoot at Palestinians who throw stones – but not at Jewish people who do the same.