Israel’s Lapid Accuses Far-right and Arab Leaders of 'Unholy, Dangerous Alliance'

Foreign minister condemns Bezalel Smotrich and Ayman Odeh over recent comments, saying the beleaguered governing coalition 'is the answer'

Noa Shpigel
Noa Shpigel
Yair Lapid at a Yesh Atid meeting in Tel Aviv, Thursday.
Yair Lapid at a Yesh Atid meeting in Tel Aviv, Thursday.Credit: Hadas Parush
Noa Shpigel
Noa Shpigel

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid launched an attack on the leaders of the far-right Religious Zionism party and the majority-Arab Joint List, saying that the governing coalition – which recently lost its majority in the Knesset – was “the answer to the unholy, dangerous alliance between them.”

Lapid’s comments at a meeting of his Yesh Atid party on Thursday came after Religious Zionism leader Bezalel Smotrich urged Israelis not to allow members of the government into their synagogues and Joint List Chairman Ayman Odeh called on Arabs members of security services serving in East Jerusalem to “throw your weapons in [the Israelis’] faces.” Both parties are part of the opposition.

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“Smotrich thinks he’s God’s bouncer,” Lapid said, “that he’ll decide which Jews deserves to enter the synagogue on Shabbat or a holiday, and [there’s] Ayman [Odeh], who attacks Arab police officers just because they decided to be part of the fight against violence and against terror.”

Lapid, who is supposed to take over from Naftali Bennett as prime minister next year according to their coalition agreement, also said the government – which lost its majority when lawmaker Idit Silman’s abruptly switched to the opposition last week – can continue to function. “The current political crisis is not easy, but it is being managed,” he said. “We will work well. This government will be here next Passover, too, as well as the one after that. It won’t be simple, but it’ll happen.”

In a statement, Religious Zionism accused Lapid of continuing to “spread hate and division among the people of Israel. Comparing the people of Religious Zionism, who devote their lives for the country, to Ayman Odeh and the terror supporters is a moral low point and confusion of values the likes of which has never been seen.”

Smotrich, once Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's colleague at Habayit Hayehudi party, has become a staunch critic of him and was ejected from the Knesset for disrupting the right-wing politician’s final speech before being sworn in as premier last June.

Odeh has criticized the government as failing to be substantially different from its predecessors. In January, as hundreds of police officers were deployed to guard Jewish National Fund workers preparing land for forestation near the Bedouin town of Hura, Odeh said the people in the government want “as much land as possible and as few Arabs as possible. These bulldozers are the true face of [Prime Minister] Naftali Bennett, [Justice Minister] Ayelet Shaked and this racist government.”

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