Far-right Lawmaker Calls to Outlaw Israel's Arab Political Parties

As Israel inches closer to November 1 election, right-wing lawmaker Bezalel Smotrich attacks the Arab parties, calling them 'the most dangerous security threat today'

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Religious Zionism chairman Bezalel Smotrich.
Religious Zionism chairman Bezalel Smotrich.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

Religious Zionism chairman Bezalel Smotrich called for Israel's Arab political parties to be completely outlawed on Monday during a speech that was nominally about counter-terrorism.

Speaking at Reichman University's World Summit on Counter-Terrorism ahead of November's approaching election, Smotrich dubbed Israel's Arab parties "the most dangerous security threat to Israel today".

"They are the first to lead the hostile discourse against Israel and against its right to exist," he said, calling for the parties to be outlawed and their members banned from the Knesset.

Last month, Smotrich's Religious Zionism party agreed on a joint run for the Knesset with Itamar Ben-Gvir's Otzma Yehudit party, following a meeting brokered by former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Kahanist party Otzma Yehudit has swelled in support since it entered the Knesset last year, with recent polls showing that Ben-Gvir's party could have secured as many as nine seats in a solo run, leaving Religious Zionism in its wake and hovering around the 3.25-percent electoral threshold.

Similarly to Smotrich, Ben-Gvir has also advocated for extremist policies targeting the Arab community in Israel, for instance calling to deport citizens who are "disloyal to Israel".

According to a Channel 12 News poll published on Saturday evening, Smotrich and Ben-Gvir's party could win 11 seats in the 120-seat Knesset, and therefore become the fourth largest (After Netanyahu's Likud, Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid and Benny Gantz's National Unity Party).

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