Pro-Expulsion Israeli Party Launches Campaign

Michael Ben Ari, leader of the Jewish Power (Otzma Yehudit) party. (Photo: via Twitter)

Far-right Israeli political party Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) has launched its election campaign by calling for the expulsion of Palestinians to their “countries of origin”.

Otzma Yehudit launched its campaign in Jerusalem yesterday ahead of Israel’s general election, which will be held on September 15, after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a ruling coalition following his re-election on April 9.

Party head Michael Ben Ari told the audience that,

“We want to resettle our enemies in their countries […] we’ll give them a bottle of mineral water and even a sandwich. We’ll find them countries of origin they can go to.”

Otzma Yehudit has a history of anti-Palestinian incitement, having previously called for the expulsion of Palestinians from both Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt). Its members are self-confessed followers of extremist Rabbi Meir Kahane, whose Kach party was banned from the Knesset in the 1980s.

Kahane’s ideology also inspired Baruch Goldstein’s 1994 massacre at Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque, which left 29 Muslim worshippers dead and scores wounded.

In March, Israel’s Central Elections Committee mulled barring Otzma Yehudit from contesting April’s election due to its anti-Palestinian rhetoric, with the Supreme Court eventually deciding only to ban Ben Ari from the slate.

The party head slammed this decision at yesterday’s campaign launch, saying “they told us this [rhetoric] is racist […] they said they disqualified me for this”.

The party also announced that it would contest September’s election alone, confirming a split with the Union of Right-Wing Parties (URWP) – a right-wing alliance of the Jewish Home and National Union parties – with which it had a working arrangement ahead of the April election.

This arrangement broke down after URWP leader Rafi Peretz and party number two Bezalel Smotrich refused to give up their Knesset seats to allow Otzma’s remaining candidate, Itamar Ben Gvir, to sit in the parliament as they had previously promised.

Israeli law allows any Knesset Member (MK) who holds a ministerial position to give up their seat in the Knesset, thus making space for lower-placed candidates from their party. Although Peretz and Smotrich were appointed as ministers of education and transport respectively, they did not vacate their seats for Ben Gvir.

(Middle East Monitor, PC, Social Media)

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