Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel / Flash 90
Otzma Yehudit Chairman MK Itamar Ben Gvir speaks to supporters, election night, November 1, 2022.

In what appeared to be a “hot mic” moment on Wednesday during talks between President Isaac Herzog and members of the Sephardic Shas party, Herzog was heard warning the lawmakers that “the entire world is anxious about” Otzma Yehudit Chair and MK Itamar Ben Gvir.


The Shas delegation, comprised of Michael Malkieli, Yoav Ben Tzur, Haim Biton and Yaacov Margi, recommended Herzog task Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu with formation of a new government.

Herzog, who clearly thought the mic was off, was heard saying, “There’s one issue I didn’t talk about because I don’t want to shame anyone. You’re going to have a problem with the Temple Mount.

“That’s a critical issue. You have a partner that the entire world around us, the entire world is anxious about,” Herzog went on, in a clear reference to Ben Gvir.

“I told him that too, between us. It’s truly not for publication. I don’t want to cause difficulties. But I think you have a responsibility.”

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In response to the report, Ben Gvir said in a statement that he and the president have “held many fruitful conversations in recent weeks.”

More than once, he said, Herzog told him that “close acquaintance with my opinions and plans has managed to impress hundreds of thousands.”

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Herzog told Ben Gvir that he was “certain” that if the right-wing lawmaker “speaks with the world, they will realize and acknowledge” that he “doesn’t generalize against all Arabs.”

Ben Gvir added in his statement that he has begun to meet with diplomats and “will work to explain the positions of Otzma Yehudit around the world.”


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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, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.