Far-right MP says Israel 'too merciful' to Palestinians
A far-right Israeli MP whose party will be a major player in the new government has expressed his desire to end any form of proportionality when dealing with Palestinians.
In an interview with the UK's Channel 4 News that aired on Friday, Zvika Fogel said Israel had been "too merciful" towards the Palestinians.
"Anyone who wants to harm me, I will harm him back. And as far as I'm concerned, the concept of proportionality must cease to exist," said Fogel.
"So I will tell you something that is very unpleasant to say. If it is one Israeli mother crying, or a thousand Palestinian mothers crying, then a thousand Palestinian mothers will cry."
When asked by the presenter if this policy was racist, Fogel said: "We are too merciful. It's time for us to stop being so. It has nothing to do with racism."
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Fogel is a member of Itamar Ben Gvir's far-right ultra-nationalist Jewish Power party. Ben-Gvir, an openly racist Jewish supremacist, is set to become public security minister following government-formation negotiations with incoming prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Jewish Power leader was previously convicted of incitement to racism and supporting a terrorist organisation.
Religious Zionism, an alliance of far-right parties including Jewish Power, came third in November's elections. Fogel is unlikely to be given a ministerial post, but his faction will nonetheless have an important say in the government's direction.
Israel's allies in the West and Gulf, as well as the Israeli military establishment, have reportedly expressed concern over Netanyahu's incoming far-right coalition partners.
On Thursday, Rabbi Jill Jacobs, CEO of T’ruah, an organisation representing over 2,300 rabbis and cantors in North America, warned: "Israel's new government is a stark display of rising fascism and racism."
"Netanyahu's coalition government gives power to violent, right-wing extremists who seek to incite political violence and who will put lives at risk… from the top down. Netanyahu and his new coalition endanger both Israelis and Palestinians," Jacobs said.
This year, 217 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces, including 52 in the Gaza Strip and 165 in the West Bank, making it one of the deadliest years on record for Palestinians since 2005.
Meanwhile, 29 Israelis, including soldiers, have been killed by Palestinians in the same period, the highest number since 2008.
Fogel previously headed the regional council in the Galilee village of Tuba-Zangariyye, a role he exited in 2011 after a wave of violence and vandalism.
He also served as a brigadier general in the Israeli army reserves and headed its southern command before spending nearly a decade running the southern command's fire control unit.
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