Palestinian foreign ministry attacks Ben-Gvir's 'private militia' plans
The Palestinian foreign ministry has launched a scathing attack on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plans to give extremist National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir a National Guard force under his command, as part of a backroom deal to keep his governing coalition together.
Palestinians are wary about the move, which will hand the far-right minister powers over his own "personal, armed militia", amid a continuing onslaught on Palestinians in the occupied West Bank which has seen at least 90 people killed this year.
On Wednesday, the foreign ministry warned that the National Guard will be used against Palestinians in the West Bank and Palestinian citizens of Israel.
"Netanyahu’s decisions and his continued efforts to solve the crises within his governing coalition come at the expense of the Palestinian people and their rights," said the ministry, in their first statement since the judicial overhaul was paused on Monday.
"We fear that, in Ben-Gvir’s hands, these new forces will be turned on Palestinians in their own land."
The ministry called Ben-Gvir "a fascist and a terrorist" who is "full of hatred for the Palestinian people and racism against Arabs".
Ben-Gvir and his ally Bezalel Smotrich of the Religious Zionism party have a history of making provocative and racist comments against Palestinians, even while in government.
After unprecedented protests and a general strike in Israel, Netanyahu announced on Monday night that he would pause the judicial overhaul scheme that had brought Israel to a standstill in recent days.
In return for the National Guard, Ben-Gvir has granted the government until early May to try and pass the controversial overhaul plans through negotiations and dialogue with opposition figures.