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Israel should be governed by Torah, return to days of King David and Solomon, says MK

The controversial comments came from MK Bezalel Smotrich whose party is likely to be included in Israel's next government
Smotrich is the number two figure in the Knesset coalition, the Union of Right-Wing Parties, which currently hold five seats (Wiki Commons)

A far-right Israeli Knesset member whose party has a strong chance of being in the next Israeli government made local headlines on Monday saying if he is appointed justice minister, he would call for the Torah, a Jewish sacred book, to govern the state.

The remarks from Bezalel Smotrich, a member of the Union of Right-Wing Parties, came a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked ahead of a general elections set for 17 September. It will be the second general election this year after the April poll failed to produce a working coalition.

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“My long-term wishes are for the State of Israel to be governed by the Torah. This is what it should be," Smotrich told Israel's Channel 2 in an interview. "This is a Jewish state. The state of the Jewish people would return to being governed as it did in the days of King David and King Solomon, according to Torah law."

He added: “Of course, it would be adjusted to the year 2019. We won’t slaughter people who breach Sabbath. [Torah law] would be adapted to our lives today. I hope it would be a more correct and just system."

Smotrich is well-known for his support of constructing illegal settlements in the West Bank, and the segregation between Jewish and Palestinian mothers in hospital maternity wards. His comments are part of his continued bid to be appointed justice minister in the interim before the election. 

After the election, the Union of Right-Wing Parties, which currently holds five seats in the Knesset, is expected to be an essential party in any coalition government the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, would be able to establish.

The party was formed from a set of fringe right-wing factions - including the Tkuma party which Smotrich leads - before the election in April and controversially includes followers of Jewish supremacist Meir Kahane, who sought to rid Israel of Arabs.

Parties involved also openly endorse religious Zionism, support illegal settlements, the annexation of the West Bank and the Golan Heights and the segregation between Palestinians and Jews in public places.

After the polls, Netanyahu failed to form a coalition government. Last week, Israeli lawmakers voted to dissolve parliament, paving the way for a new election in September.  

Smotrich has made controversial comments in the past, including saying that the Palestinian teen Ahed Tamimi who slapped an Israeli soldier in her home yard in December 2017 "should have gotten a bullet, at least in the kneecap".