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Netanyahu says Kahanist Itamar Ben Gvir will be part of his coalition, but not his government

Left photo: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a speach at the Likud party's election rally in Ramat Gan on February 29, 2020.  (Gili Yaari/Flash90) Right photo: Itamar Ben Gvir, head of the Otzma Yehudit party, holds a press conference in Jerusalem on February 26, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Left photo: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a speach at the Likud party's election rally in Ramat Gan on February 29, 2020. (Gili Yaari/Flash90) Right photo: Itamar Ben Gvir, head of the Otzma Yehudit party, holds a press conference in Jerusalem on February 26, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the far-right political candidate Itamar Ben Gvir will be part of the coalition he hopes to form after next month’s election, but won’t have a position in his government — apparently ruling him out as a minister or deputy minister.

Netanyahu makes the distinction in an interview with the right-wing Channel 20 station.

Ben Gvir “won’t be part of the government,” he says. “Ben Gvir made a technical bloc with the Religious Zionism party, so he will plainly be part of the coalition,” he adds.

Ben Gvir is a disciple of the late far-right extremist rabbi Meir Kahane. His Otzma Yehudit party — which recently joined forces with the Religious Zionism party at Netanyahu’s prodding — supports encouraging emigration of non-Jews from Israel and expelling Palestinians and Arab Israelis who refuse to declare loyalty to Israel and accept diminished status in an expanded Jewish state, whose sovereignty would extend throughout the West Bank.

Ben Gvir is in the third slot on the merged slate, which most polls have shown clearing the Knesset threshold and clinching 4-5 seats in the March 23 elections.

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