Photo Credit: Gili Yaari / Flash 90
MK Betzalel Smotrich and Otzma's Itamar Ben-Gvir, April 6, 2019

The entire far-left bloc of lawmakers from the Yesh Atid, Meretz and Arab Joint List factions got up and left the Knesset on Monday when Religious Zionist Party MK Itamar Ben-Gvir rose to deliver remarks.

“This is the moment I have been waiting for,” Ben-Gvir said in ringing tones. “For the moment that I get up to speak and they” – he gestured towards those leaving – “the supporters of terror including [Arab Joint List MK] Ahmad Tibi, exit.

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Ben-Gvir went on to suggest that he would “set up a tent” for himself on the Knesset podium and even sleep in a sleeping bag, “just so the supporters of terror will go home.” He then moved on to the substance of his remarks.

Ben-Gvir is an Israeli attorney and chairman of the Otzma Yehudit Party that merged with the Religious Zionists faction, and a former member of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane’s Kach party, which was outlawed by Israel as a “terrorist organization.”

Ben-Gvir is known for representing Jews accused by the state of nationalistic offenses. He served as parliamentary assistant to MK Michael Ben-Ari in the 18th Knesset and is the attorney of record for Lehava, an anti-assimilation organization that opposes Jewish intermarriage with gentiles.

He is also known for having cost the Jordanian Islamic Waqf Authority tens of thousands of shekels after an August 2016 incident on the Temple Mount in which he responded to Waqf hecklers yelling “Allahu Akbar,” (English – Allah is great) by shouting back at them, “Am Yisrael Chai” – “The nation of Israel lives!” The courts ruled in Ben-Gvir’s favor when he and his son were subsequently blocked from ascending to the Mount. A petition had also been filed urging the government to distance him from the Temple Mount — but instead, the court ordered the Waqf (which together with Israel currently controls the Temple Mount) to pay him NIS 50,000 in damages.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.