Two ultranationalists are planning to found a new political party to outflank their former partner, far-right lawmaker Itamar Ben Gvir, from an even more extremist position.
According to the Kan public broadcaster, Baruch Marzel and Michael Ben Ari, who have both previously been disqualified by the High Court from running in Knesset elections, are jointly launching the party.
The outlet said activists collected signatures required for the establishment of a party at a memorial event for Rabbi Meir Kahane, founder of the racist Kach party, held in the coastal city of Bat Yam on Wednesday evening.
It was unclear if they reached the 100-signature threshold.
Ben Ari and Marzel were founding members of Ben Gvir’s far-right Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) party, alongside other extremist figures such as Bentzi Gopstein, head of the radical right-wing anti-LGBT and anti-miscegenation Lehava organization.
Ben Ari was a previous leader of Otzma Yehudit but was disqualified by the High Court of Justice from running ahead of the April 2019 elections due to his repeated incitement against Arabs. He previously served in the 18th Knesset (2009-2013) as a member of the National Union alliance of far-right political parties.
Marzel and Gopstein were banned from running in August 2019 over racist statements.
Earlier this year, Marzel criticized Ben Gvir, saying that his former ally was “ideologically flexible.” He told The Times of Israel last week he did not vote for Otzma Yehudit in the recent election.
Marzel led the Kach party after its founder was assassinated in 1990, and has long been identified with the faction’s goal of forcibly cleansing the country of Arabs. The party formally disbanded in 1994 after the Israeli government declared it a terror group.
Last year, Facebook said it permanently banned Ben Ari and Marzel from Facebook and Instagram, citing “their ongoing support for Kach and Kahane Chai — groups deemed to be terror organizations by US and Israeli law.”
Ben Gvir attended a memorial to Kahane last week where he was booed after saying that although he admired the racist leader, he would not advance legislation that would expel all Arabs from Israel and the West Bank or create a regime of ethnic segregation, as Kahane advocated.
Remarks he made vowing to expel terrorists from the country were, however, cheered by the crowd, and Ben Gvir also extolled Kahane’s virtues and praised him for many of his activities.
Ben Gvir was in the past convicted on several counts, including support for a terror organization due to his backing of Kach. As a lawyer, he has represented numerous Jewish terrorists and terror suspects.
Ben Gvir gained notoriety before the 1995 assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin when he proudly held up an ornament that he’d managed to rip off Rabin’s Cadillac during a TV interview and said, “We’ll get to Rabin too.”
For years, Ben Gvir had a picture of Baruch Goldstein — the Jewish terrorist who carried out a massacre at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron in 1994, killing 29 Palestinians — hanging on the wall of his Kiryat Arba home. He removed it in 2019 after it became heavily publicized in local media and began to harm him politically.