Occupied Palestine (QNN)- An alliance of Israeli far-right groups including openly racist and homophobic candidates appears poised to enter the Israeli parliament, possibly as an indispensable member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition, according to exit polls Tuesday.
Some of the groups in Netanyahu’s coalition are so extreme that even the prime minister’s usually unflinching backers from the pro-Israel US lobby cannot stomach it.
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.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac) has called Jewish Power, a party of ultranationalist extremists, “racist and reprehensible”. But on Wednesday, although votes are still being counted and success is by no means guaranteed, those same people are being courted by the Israeli longest-serving leader to join an assortment of other parties.
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.
The leader of the Religious Zionist party alliance, Bezalel Smotrich, once suggested segregated wards in hospitals so Jewish women would not have to give birth next to Palestinians.
“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.
Jewish Power’s leader, Itamar Ben-Gvir, who is set to become a lawmaker for the first time, was hoisted on to the stage by supporters.
“I have a dream,” he told them. “I have a dream that [Israeli] soldiers will live in a nation that has their backs … I have a dream that a rightwing government will strengthen the Jewish identity of the country.”
An attorney who has defended Israeli settlers implicated in violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, Ben-Gvir was convicted in 2007 of inciting racism after holding signs at a protest reading “Expel the Arab enemy”.
Until last year he kept a photo in his living room of Baruch Goldstein, an American-Israeli settler who in 1994 shot dead 29 Palestinians in Hebron as they held morning prayers.
His party, Jewish Power, is formed of ideological successors to Meir Kahane, a US-born rabbi who served one term in Israel’s parliament in 1984 before his Kach party was banned. Kahane advocated for a Jewish theocracy, the expulsion of Palestinians and a ban on marriage between Jews and Arabs.
Years earlier, having set up the militant Jewish Defense League, he was imprisoned for bomb-making in the US. Kahane was assassinated in 1990 by an Egyptian-born American gunman. The FBI regards the Jewish Defense League as a rightwing terrorist group after two members attempted to bomb a California mosque.
Ben-Gvir has claimed that Jewish Power is “not a continuation” of Kahane’s ideology but has said he considered the man “a holy saint who fought wars for the people of Israel and was killed sanctifying God’s name”.
Last month Netanyahu signed an agreement with Religious Zionism, of which Jewish Power is a part, promising positions in government in exchange for support. The 71-year-old leader said Ben-Gvir would be in his broad coalition but was “not fit” to be a cabinet member. However, with preliminary results showing very slim margins, Netanyahu is vulnerable to pressure.