Newly installed minister Itamar Ben Gvir says he will visit the Temple Mount as minister, potentially tossing a match into one on the region’s most flammable issues.
“I will go up onto the Temple Mount. I don’t need a coalition agreement for that. It is clear, I am against racism on the Temple Mount,” he tells Kan news.
The far-right politician, who has pushed for an increased Jewish presence on the Temple Mount, has maintained his right to visit the holy site, ignoring warnings that doing so as minister could inflame tensions with Palestinians and with Amman, which has said that such a move could have serious implications.
New Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has chided lawmakers in the past for visiting the site without coordinating their moves with authorities.
Speaking to Channel 12 news, the new national security minister says he will work for all Israelis, seeking to soften his hardline image, but also sticks to his guns on the sensitive issue of visits to the Temple Mount.
“We came to serve everyone. I will be a minister for everyone. For Jews and Arabs, who are suffering too, from crime,” he tells Channel 12 news.
Asked about his support for anti-LGBTQ legislation, he notes his friendship with new Knesset speaker Amir Ohana, the first openly gay lawmaker to hold the post.
“Nobody wants to exclude anyone, not LGBTQ, nobody,” he says.
Pressed about his push to repeal legislation banning racists from the Knesset, he argues that the law needs to be fixed so it is employed fairly against Jews and Arabs both, claiming that he is “against racism.”
He refuses to say if he is seeking to pave a way back for his former political partners whose candidacies were banned due to their racist stances.