Ben-Gvir to i24NEWS: 'I want to act to strengthen the state'
The head of the Otzma Yehudit party talks about the November 1 elections, the fifth round since 2019
The head of Israel's far-right Otzma Yehudit party, Itamar Ben-Gvir, sat down with i24NEWS on Wednesday to discuss the November elections, starting with his disagreements with Religious Zionism head Bezalel Smotrich.
The parties ran together in the last elections, and are predicted to make considerable gains in the fifth round of elections since 2019. However, the two leaders are butting heads over slots on the campaign list.
"We have disputes... Some people want a more secular party. I want a party that will address all of Israel," Ben-Gvir told i24NEWS.
"I will say one thing: there is hesitation. Because at the end of the day, we see that the two parties separately can also get a lot of seats."
When asked why Ben-Gvir, who is predicted to gain more seats in the polls, is not the head of the combined slate, he responded: "I come here without an ego. I want to win. I want the people of Israel to win."
Watch the full interview with Itamar Ben-Gvir:
"Bezalel, my friend, if he wants to be first? No problem. What's important is that the list will be egalitarian."
Ben-Gvir, who dealt with controversies in the past regarding the Arab sector, was asked if his statement regarding representing "all of Israel" included the Arab population.
"Of course," he responded. "Arabs who live in the State of Israel are citizens. Most of them, who are loyal, they want to live here, and work here... there is no problem."
"I have a problem with those who throw stones at Israeli soldiers," he continued, listing several mixed cities in the country.
Ben-Gvir, when prompted with questions about Mansour Abbas, head of the Islamist Ra’am party, mentioned a discussion he allegedly had with Abbas, where the Otzma Yehudit leader attempted to get Abbas to condemn the murder of Israeli soldiers.
"And he didn't, and you know why? Because he condemns the murder of citizens, but soldiers, it is something else."
Most polls show former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu only being able to form a government with the help of Ben-Gvir's party. When asked what his demands are, he said, "If there is capital punishment in the United States, why not in Israel? Capital punishment for terrorists that murder babies!"
“I want to act to strengthen the state,” the politician underlined.
In 2007, prior to entering politics, Ben Gvir was convicted by a Jerusalem court of supporting a terrorist organization and incitement to racism.