'Europe Needs Working Hands': Kahanist Leader Calls to Deport 'Disloyal' Israelis

Itamar Ben-Gvir, Otzma Yehudit party head hoping to be part of Israel's next government, declared he would support a deportation policy for anyone who works 'against the state of Israel,' specifically mentioning Joint List lawmakers

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Haaretz
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MK Itamar Ben-Gvir, on Monday.
MK Itamar Ben-Gvir, on Monday.Credit: Moti Milrod
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Haaretz

Far-right lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir called for the deportation of two lawmakers and others “who are disloyal to the State of Israel” to Europe on Tuesday, declaring during a radio interview that he would promote such a policy if included in the next government.

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“It is our duty to deport [such a person] from here, to deprive them of their citizenship and to fly away from here,” he told Army Radio, promising that he would work to “pass a deportation law for people like Ayman Odeh,” the head of the Joint Arab List, as well as lawmaker Ofer Cassif, the list’s lone Jewish lawmaker, who was filmed striking a police officer at a protest against the eviction of Palestinian families in the West Bank this summer.

Joint List lawmaker Ofer Cassif, in February, with Itamar Ben-Gvir on a screen behind him.Credit: Noam Revkin-Fenton

“There are plenty of places that are looking for working hands. Let them go to Europe. They are looking for working people there... I promise you one thing – I have to find the place. I definitely think that an office to encourage emigration should be established,” Ben Gvir said.

Asked if such a policy would apply to Jews, Ben-Gvir, a Kahanist who supports the transfer of Arabs, replied that he wants to expel “anyone who calls our soldiers war criminals” and is working “against the State of Israel,” regardless of race.

However, when pressed, he appeared to indicate that there could be a different standard for Jewish and Arab violence, citing a 2017 High Court rejection of a petition that sought the demolition of the homes of the Jewish killers of an East Jerusalem teen, stating that the killing was “not terrorism.”

Ben-Gvir’s comments came less than a day after he threatened to break away from the Religious Zionism party over power-sharing disagreements and run independently in the upcoming election.

In a press conference, Ben-Gvir said he would run on his own but was not ruling out joining a different election slate. His Otzma Yehudit party previously ran on the same election ticket as the Religious Zionism party, with far-right lawmaker Bezalel Smotrich at its helm.

While seen as a marginal figure for much of his political career, Ben-Gvir has gained considerable public support recently and aims to become a minister in a future Netanyahu government.

According to a Channel 12 election poll released Sunday, a joint slate with representatives of both Ben-Gvir's and Smotrich's parties would receive 10 seats in the next Knesset. The poll showed that if they ran separately, Ben-Gvir's slate would get eight seats and Smotrich's would get five. In that scenario, Likud would receive three seats fewer than in the former one.

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