Spat underlines the inherent tensions of the governing coalition, built from Israeli hawks and doves
In the latest spat between members of Israel’s governing coalition, a deputy minister was accused of a “blood libel” by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett over remarks the minister made about Israeli settlers.
Parliamentarian and Deputy Economy Minister Yair Golan made the comments when referring to settlers from the Homesh outpost – a Jewish community in the West Bank that is unrecognized by the state and has in the past been removed by police.
“These are not people, these are subhumans. Despicable, and the corruption of the Jewish people. They must not be given any backing,” Golan told the Knesset Channel, adding “this radical nationalist rampage will bring a catastrophe upon us.”
Israel’s seven-month-old government is formed from a diverse mixture of parties including Bennett’s rightwing Yamina faction and Golan’s leftist Meretz party.
"Yair Golan's remarks about the residents of Homesh are shocking and bordering on a blood libel," Bennett tweeted.
Communities in the West Bank are Israel's modern-day pioneers, the prime minister said, referring to the early Zionists that established the country in the early 20th century.
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Defense Minister Benny Gantz – each from centrist parties within the coalition - also condemned Golan’s words, The Washington Post reported.
In a later interview with Israel’s Army Radio, Golan defended his words but said most settlers were law-abiding.
Opposition leader and former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Golan’s words were “taken directly from Nazi terminology against the Jewish people” and urged Bennett to fire the deputy from the government.
Homesh is a focal point for tensions between Israelis and Palestinians, tensions which have sparked bloodshed – including in December when a Jewish resident of the outpost, Yehuda Dimentman, 25, was shot and killed.
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