An Israeli cabinet minister has raised eyebrows and ire by calling for the extrajudicial execution of Palestinian prisoners and by boasting about how he's "killed lots of Arabs" in his life.
+972 Magazine reports Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor Naftali Bennett made his comments in opposition to the Israeli government's decision to release 104 Palestinian prisoners ahead of revived peace talks with the Palestinian Authority scheduled to begin in Washington, DC on Monday.
Bennett, who is also the leader of the far-right, religious Jewish Home party, is dead-set against the prisoner release.
"If you catch terrorists, you have to simply kill them," Bennett reportedly declared, according to Israeli news sources including the leading Tel Aviv daily Yedioth Ahronoth.
When Israeli National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror, who is no dove when it comes to the Palestinians, reminded Bennett that such extrajudicial executions are illegal, the cabinet minister reportedly shot back that he'd personally killed plenty of Arabs.
"I've killed lots of Arabs in my life-- and there's no problem with that," Bennett retorted.
Naftali Bennet says he's "killed lots of Arabs" and has no problem with that.
Bennett also participated in a protest against the prisoner release ahead of the cabinet meeting at which the government decided to free the men.
According to the Jewish Press, Bennett wrote on his Facebook page that "terrorists should be killed, not released."
Bennett is no stranger to controversy over his politically charged remarks. He is an outspoken opponent of Palestinian statehood and recently referred to Palestinians as "shrapnel in the butt" of Israel.
"I will do everything in my power to make sure [the Palestinians] never get a state," Bennett told the New Yorker earlier this year.
Opponents of Palestinian statehood point to the fact that there never was a Palestinian state to begin with to justify a position which enjoys little support outside Israel and the United States. Bennett, like all Zionists, believes that a supernatural deity, "God," promised the Jews, "His chosen people," all of Palestine in ancient times. Thousands of years ago, numerous Jewish kingdoms existed in Palestine. But from biblical times until the early 20th century, Jews never numbered more than 10 percent of the population of the territory that would become the modern state of Israel following more than half a century of Jewish immigration.
In reasserting their claim to their ancient homeland, Zionist colonists from Europe, many of them fleeing anti-Semitic pogroms and, later, the horrors of the Holocaust, carried out their own campaign of terrorism and ethnic cleansing during which more than 700,000 Arabs were expelled from Palestine in 1948-49, with another 200,000 forced out after Israel occupied the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Syrian Golan Heights during the 1967 Six Day War.
In the decades that followed, more than half a million Jewish settlers established and expanded more than 100 colonies throughout the occupied territories. Although both Israel's occupation and its settlements are illegal under international law and have been condemned by dozens of United Nations resolutions, successive Israeli governments have defiantly ignored the law and international consensus and forged ahead with what some critics call the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestine.
The 'Arab terrorists' Bennett wishes to kill are fighting against this illegal occupation and colonization of Palestine. Mightily outgunned by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), which receive billions of dollars in aid and highly advanced weaponry each year from the United States, some Palestinian resistance fighters resort to heinous acts of terrorism. But far more Arabs have been killed by Israelis than the other way around, and as David Ben-Gurion, the 'George Washington of Israel,' once remarked, "A people which fights against the usurpation of its land will not tire so easily."
Or, as Yuval Diskin, formerly the head of the Israeli intelligence agency Shin Bet, recently observed: "To them (the Palestinians), I was the terrorist... One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter."
Bennett, who is only an Israeli because his parents emigrated there from San Francisco following the 1967 war during which hundreds of thousands of Arabs were expelled by Jews from territories to which they had direct, centuries-old ties, would do well to remember this before inciting deadly violence against a "people fighting against the usurpation of its land."
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