Ben-Gvir faces party defection over ’toning down’ of extremism

Middle East Monitor  /  March 15, 2023

Senior Jewish Power party officials have accused their leader Itamar Ben-Gvir of toning down his extremism in favour of Israel’s coalition government interests, Makor Rishon revealed on Tuesday. Michael Ben-Ari and Baruch Marzel are reported to have decided to defect and form a new far-right party.

The newspaper is close to the far-right parties in Israel. It pointed out that Ben-Ari was a founder of Jewish Power but he and Marzel were banned from standing for election to the Knesset because of their racist positions towards the Arabs and the Palestinians. Both were reported as saying that they were “frustrated” by Ben-Gvir’s “abandonment” of his extreme right-wing principles, and that he is appeasing the coalition government at the expense of his political beliefs.

According to the report, the beginning of the disagreement with Ben-Gvir started when he agreed to run for the Knesset jointly with extreme far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich.

The Jewish Power party was founded by Aryeh Eldad and Michael Ben-Ari in 2013 after defecting from the National Union party. The party leaders consider themselves to be followers of the late extremist Rabbi Meir Kahane. They encourage, said Quds Press, the expulsion of Palestinians from Palestinian land as well as the Arab citizens of Israel who reject living as second-class citizens or as subordinates to Jews.