Would also boot anti-Zionist Neturei Karta haredi extremists

Ben Gvir says he’d seek to expel Arabs who attack IDF soldiers, ‘disloyal’ MKs

Far-right MK aims to banish lawmakers he deems disloyal to state, but simultaneously claims he supports freedom of speech

Michael Horovitz is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel

MK Itamar Ben Gvir speaks in the Knesset on November 2, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
MK Itamar Ben Gvir speaks in the Knesset on November 2, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Far-right lawmaker Itamar Ben Gvir said Tuesday he wants to introduce a bill providing courts the option to deport Arab citizens who attack soldiers with a nationalistic intent, as well as politicians who are deemed disloyal to the State of Israel.

When asked by Army Radio how someone who throws a Molotov cocktail or rocks at IDF troops should be punished, Ben Gvir said: “He should be expelled, he should have his citizenship stripped and leave.” He went on to differentiate between Arab citizens and Jewish Israelis, arguing that Jews guilty of throwing rocks at soldiers should “sit in prison for many years” rather than being deported.

He claimed that during his time as a practicing lawyer, he never encountered a situation when a Jewish person threw a Molotov cocktail at troops.

“There is a difference between those who want to eliminate the Jewish state and those who don’t,” Ben Gvir said.

Pressed on where such supposed undesirables would be deported to, Ben Gvir responded that “there are lots of places that are looking for workers,” and suggested Europe would be an option, but that a ministry to “promote immigration” should be established which would ensure suitable locations are found.

Ben Gvir said deportees would be transferred on “trains, planes, whatever you want.”

Screen capture from video of an altercation between leader of the far-right Otzma Yehudit party MK Itamar Ben Gvir (center-left) and MK Ayman Odeh, leader of the predominantly Arab-Israeli Joint List party, at the Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot, October 19, 2021. (Twitter)

During the interview, Ben Gvir named Joint List MKs Ayman Odeh and Ofer Cassif as individuals he believes should be deported. He claimed they actively work against the State of Israel, without giving details.

Odeh and Cassif are members of the list’s Hadash faction, a left-wing party with a communist agenda. Odeh is Muslim; Cassif is Jewish.

Ben Gvir said members of Neturei Karta, a fringe anti-Zionist ultra-Orthodox movement, would also be targets of his expulsion policy due to their opposition to Israeli statehood.

At the same time, Ben Gvir professed his support for freedom of expression. Those who write online posts critical of the country should not, he opined, face deportation.

Ben Gvir declared on Monday night that his far-right Otzma Yehudit party will run independently in the November 1 general elections, after previously running as part of the Religious Zionism Party. He accused party leader Bezalel Smotrich of failing to negotiate on another joint run in good faith for a continued partnership.

Ben Gvir is widely reported to have demanded more prominent spots on the joint slate, in light of polls showing growing support for his party.

Otzma Yehudit is made up of disciples of the late extremist rabbi Meir Kahane, whose Kach party was banned from running for the Knesset due to its racist principles.

Despite the declaration of separation, an entire month remains before the September 15 deadline for submitting party lists, meaning that there is still time for negotiations on a joint run to be revived and concluded successfully.

Ben Gvir again addressed the breakup on Tuesday, asserting that the division came down to different views on the ideal electoral list.

“I’m separating from Smotrich after trying everything, really everything for unity. There was no stone I left unturned,” he said.

MK Itamar Ben Gvir, left, speaks during a press conference ahead of the upcoming elections, in Jerusalem, July 11, 2022; MK Bezalel Smotrich, right, leads a faction meeting at the Knesset, June 6, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“Bezalel, [MK Michal] Woldiger, and all the members there want ‘classic’ Religious Zionism,” he claimed, noting that Smotrich wanted to court the party’s traditional voters, while Ben Gvir was seeking what he called a more diverse list.

“On my list, I want Haredim, secular people, released soldiers, and young people,” he said.

Ben Gvir’s Otzma Yehudit has of late been boosted by a series of favorable polls, some of which have shown a joint slate receiving more seats if Ben Gvir, rather than Smotrich, headed it. Others have predicted Otzma Yehudit would win more seats than Smotrich’s far-right Religious Zionism party if they were to run separately.

A Channel 12 poll Sunday night, for instance, showed Otzma Yehudit taking eight seats and Religious Zionism just five if the two parties run independently.

Jeremy Sharon contributed to this report.

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