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US apprehensive Netanyahu will nominate far-right defense minister

More and more American and Arab officials are sending designated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu messages, warning him against offering far-right Religious Zionism leader Bezalel Smotrich the defense portfolio.
Bezalel Smotrich, Israeli far-right lawmaker and leader of the Religious Zionist Party.

Leader of the far-right Religious Zionism party Bezalel Smotrich, one of the most radical figures ever to emerge in Israel’s political arena, may soon be named Israel’s minister of defense with responsibility for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

Three years ago, former deputy head of the Shin Bet security service Yitzhak Ilan reportedly revealed that the agency suspected Smotrich had planned to blow up cars on a major highway during the 2005 Gaza disengagement. Ilan said at the time that Smotrich was a “Jewish terrorist.” If he gets his way and is nominated defense minister, Smotrcich will hold ministerial and constitutional authority over the West Bank, one of the most volatile places on earth.

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