Israel far-right politician Ben-Gvir 'worrying' for Netanyahu mandate, says Herzog
Israeli President Isaac Herzog said on Wednesday that "the whole world is worried" about lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir's far-right positions, local media reported, as he appears poised to become a minister in Benjamin Netanyahu's new coalition government.
Herzog's statement about the far-right politician was caught by a microphone he apparently thought was off as he held consultations with an ultra-Orthodox political party about the next government.
Former premier Netanyahu is expected to be at the helm of the new government following the victory of his right-wing alliance in last week's election.
"You have a partner who the entire world around us is worried about. I have also said this to him. This is really not for publication. I don't want to cause problems," Herzog said on a live mic about Ben-Gvir at the end of the meeting.
"You are going to have a problem with the Temple Mount. That is a critical issue," Herzog said, referring to occupied East Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third-holiest site in Islam.
Ben-Gvir who was convicted of supporting a terror group and for inciting racism in 2007, supports Jewish prayer at the sacred compound, challenging the historic status quo.
Known for defending Israeli terrorists, chanting slogans of hate against Arabs and Palestinians, and leading settler marches through the Palestinian neighbourhoods of east Jerusalem, Ben-Gvir represents a particularly extreme version of Israeli oppression.
The ultranationalist politician – who wants to be police minister – has raised alarm among Palestinians and Arab neighbours who fear his inclusion in government could stoke Middle East tensions.
Ben-Gvir has been credited with building support for Netanyahu's far-right bloc in parliament.
The new government is likely to be one of the most right-wing in the state's history.
Herzog's office later said that the president had discussed these concerns with Ben-Gvir directly.
A spokesperson for Ben-Gvir did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Itamar Ben Gvir claimed said he felt threatened by the unarmed Palestinian man, who instructed him not to use a restricted parking spot.https://t.co/UszgylbbIf— The New Arab (@The_NewArab) December 24, 2021
According to local media, Ben-Gvir said that he has had "many fruitful conversations" with the president and that he intends to explain his Jewish Power party's positions.
The president's consultations with political parties will continue over the coming days.
He will tap a candidate to assemble a government on Sunday, his office said.
Last week's election saw Netanyahu end a stalemate after five elections in less than four years.
Along with smaller far-right and religious parties, his Likud party took 64 seats in the 120-seat parliament, giving Netanyahu a solid majority and easing the process of forming a government.