Who is Ben Gvir, the far-right Israeli security minister, who is pro-settlement? | News of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Israel’s far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir has gone from being a right-wing, religious, anti-Palestinian agitator to holding a key position in the Israeli government.

His latest infuriating comment came last week when he admitted that his right to unhindered movement trumps that of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

“My right and the right of my wife and children to move throughout Judea and Samaria is more important than freedom of movement for the Arabs,” he said in an interview, using the biblical term for occupied territories.

He later quarreled with American model Bella Hadid after she criticized his comment.

“Anywhere, anytime, and especially in 2023, someone’s life should be more valuable than someone else’s. Especially because of their race, culture or Their pure hatred.”

In response, Ben Gvir called Hadid an “Israel hater” and said she only shared part of the interview on her social media account in order to portray him as a racist.

rise to power

The 47-year-old lawyer and politician has led the far-right Jewish Power (Otzma Yehudit) party since 2019, and was sworn into government after last year’s elections.

He was later appointed Minister of National Security and handed over command of the Israeli Border Police in the occupied West Bank.

Ben Gvir, a settler in Kiryat Arba, one of the most extreme settlements in the occupied West Bank (all of which are illegal under international law), was convicted of inciting racism, destroying property, and possessing propaganda materials for a “terrorist” organization. He supported a “terrorist” organization – the outlawed “Kach” group of Meir Kahane, which he joined when he was 16 years old.

However, in the March 2021 elections, the Jewish Power Party led by Ben Gvir was able to enter the Israeli parliament by merging with the National Union Party led by Bezalel Smotrich, to become the religious Zionist list at the request of then Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and lost the elections to the Synods. In front of Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid.

Ben Jvir also wants to expel “traitorous” Palestinian citizens from Israel. In August, a poll conducted by a local Internet radio station showed that nearly two-thirds of Israelis supported the proposal.

In April, the Israeli cabinet defended Ben Gvir’s plan to establish a national guard, which was part of a settlement to win Ben Gvir’s support for judicial changes the government plans to make after weeks of protests against it. In defense of his National Guard, which will report directly to his office, the defense minister said it was a revival of the Israel Guard, which was created as part of the Border Police, launched by former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in 2022.

According to experts, Ben Jvir benefited from the timing of the Israeli elections and the divided political landscape.

“During periods of uncertainty and tension, when people want an answer and the left doesn’t have an immediate answer, the ground is fertile for messages from the right, which responds in a more populist way,” said Daniel Barr. Tal, a political psychologist at Tel Aviv University, told Al Jazeera. “And this is the bin Juffair phenomenon.”

problematic past

Ben Jvir has a long history of provoking the Palestinians and the Israeli left.

In 1995, at the height of the Oslo peace accords, when he was 19, Ben Jvir showed television cameras the hood ornament of then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s car, saying, “We got to his car. We’ll get to him, too.”

A few weeks later, Rabin was assassinated by an extreme Israeli nationalist during a rally in support of the peace agreement and the planned withdrawal from the Palestinian territories.

Ben Jvir was also famous for displaying on the wall of his house a picture of Baruch Goldstein, the Israeli-American who killed 29 Palestinian worshipers in Hebron in 1994.

Since winning a seat in the Knesset, he has pulled a gun on Palestinian parking lot workers in Tel Aviv — where he was interrogated by police — and got into a dispute with lawmaker Ayman Odeh, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, when Odeh prevented him from entering the hospital room of a Palestinian prisoner on strike. the food.

Last November, Bin Juffair went to the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem, where the Israeli authorities were trying to expel Palestinian families, with a group of settlers who slashed the tires of Palestinian cars and tried to break into the house of one of the families. When the Palestinians responded by throwing stones, he pulled out a gun, despite the presence of the police at the scene.

In June, he entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem and declared that Israel “takes responsibility,” drawing condemnation from Palestinians after months of escalating tension and violence.

“I am happy with the ascent of the Temple Mount, the most important place for the people of Israel,” Ben Jvir said during his visit to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

Last month, he led a group of more than 1,000 ultra-nationalist settlers to the compound again, his third visit to the site this year.

Feedback and criticism

Netanyahu’s decision to bring Ben Gvir, “straight from a fringe of the far-right and insane into the heart of political life and turn him into a hero,” was lamented by former minister Limor Livnat last year. Livnat, of the right-wing Likud party, wrote in a newspaper that “a real Likudist will not vote for Likud” in the run-up to the elections.

Ehud Barak, the former Labor prime minister, predicted “dark days” if Ben Gvir entered government, while left-wing Meretz leader Zahava Galon said the elections “will determine whether there will be a free state here or a Jewish theocracy”.

Ben Juffair’s remarks last week drew widespread condemnation.

Some Israeli journalists reacted angrily on social media to Ben Gvir’s remarks, noting that he was admitting apartheid on air.

“For the first time, an Israeli minister admits on air that Israel implements an apartheid system, based on Jewish superiority,” said Ahmed Tibi, a Palestinian-Israeli member of the Knesset.

Hansen Majadleh, a Palestinian editor and columnist for the Israeli daily Haaretz, criticized “Ben Jvir’s laziness”.

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