EdTec Test Swing 5.2023.05-p2 go live - 01

EdTec Test Swing 5.2023.05-p2 go live - 01


One of Israel’s most senior ministers is calling for the “sterilisation” of “buffer zones” surrounding illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian West Bank. And it’s a call Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cannot ignore.

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich sent a letter to the Prime Minister earlier this week, demanding Palestinian farmers be barred from accessing their fields and olive groves.

“The concept of security is shaken,” the leader of Israel’s far-right Religious Zionism party said about his own coalition government’s failure to repel a surprise October 7 attack by Hamas. Some 1400 Israelis were killed, and more than 200 were taken hostage.

“The writing is on the wall, and I am not ready to be a part of it. I will not agree to additional blood under my watch due to insistence on maintaining distorted perceptions,” Smotrich wrote.

Israeli right wing Knesset member Bezalel Smotrich has called for the “sterilisation” in the Palestinian West Bank. Picture: Abir Sultan / POOL / AFP

Israeli right wing Knesset member Bezalel Smotrich has called for the “sterilisation” in the Palestinian West Bank. Picture: Abir Sultan / POOL / AFP

Netanyahu is under immense pressure to comply.

The United Nation’s 1947 Partition Plan created a single Palestinian state, with the southern area of Gaza and much of the border with Egypt linked via the “international” city of Jerusalem to lands on the West Bank of Jordan. These territories have been extensively eroded by decades of conflict and illegal Israeli settlements.

Now Netanyahu’s sixth term as Prime Minister over a deeply divided Israel is built on the support of Israel’s far right. And his need to back their controversial West Bank settlements has been blamed for diverting attention from Gaza at a critical time.

He must contend with their incendiary rhetoric as he struggles to maintain international rage against Hamas and justify his overwhelming assault on the Gaza Strip. And it’s a battle he must face on the home front.

“Jews murdered in the West Bank are more important than Jews murdered in Gaza because the former are right-wing settlers and the latter are left-wing kibbutz members,” Religious Zionist Party member – and chair of the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee – Simcha Rothman proclaimed last week.

His words expose a bitter divide within Israeli society.

Jewish Power

Israel’s far-right political parties won six seats in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, last year. Chief among them was ultranationalist Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) and its leader Itamar Ben-Gvir.

At his victory speech, Ben-Gvir’s supporters reportedly began chanting “death to the terrorists” and “death to the Arabs”. In 2007, He had been convicted in 2007 for supporting the terrorist-designated Kach party.