Exclusive interview with Likud MK Yehuda Glick

World Israel News recently sat down with Likud MK Yehuda Glick, who spoke frankly, even leveling criticism at his own party.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Rabbi Yehuda Glick placed 33rd on the Likud list for the 20th Knesset representing the Judea and Samaria region. He  didn’t expect to make it into the legislative body, especially when the party only received 30 mandates. But when several MKS departed, among them Danny Danon, who headed to New York  to serve as Israel’s ambassador at the U.N., the American-born Glick, who made aliyah with his family at the age of eight, entered the Knesset on May 23, 2016.

Glick sat down with World Israel News on Dec. 11 to talk about the next elections, which are likely to come early. He said many surprising things, including leveling tough criticism at his own party.

Q: In your opinion, what will be the main issues in the upcoming elections?

A: We never know what the topics are going to be because they are only chosen depending on something that happens maybe two months before the elections. I can only tell you what the main topic is in my eyes.

In the last decade or two, public opinion in Israel has transferred very much to the right [so] it doesn’t matter who’s going to head the Labor Party because they won’t be elected. But in 1981, the Likud got 48 seats. Why doesn’t this happen today? We have the potential.

Unfortunately, in the last five years, the Likud has caused people to run away from the party – due to the attitude. Many of those voting Kahlon, or Yesh Atid, would’ve voted Likud in the past. But Likud became arrogant. The language and style has changed, from the prime minister on down, definitely in the last three years. We know what’s best, we’re going to show them. We’re promoting a dialogue of hate … Hate towards the Left, towards Arabs, towards anyone who disagrees with us. … the Shabak, the police, the courts – much of the criticism is right, but it’s the way we’re doing it [that’s wrong]. … Many people liked it, but many were turned off.

So the most important thing is for the Likud list to have much more dignity. People will understand that the Likud is right, that our ideology is the realistic one, but we can respect people we don’t agree with. We have to learn that we’re all part of puzzle. I’ll tell you something. The most popular person in the country today is [2018 Israel Prize winner for Lifetime Achievement] Miriam Peretz. She lost two sons to war and lectures all around the country. She shows her love of everybody; she’s always positive, always sees the bright side of things. And there’s [new Beit Shemesh mayor] Aliza Bloch, who … tries to be inclusive, she’s considerate and respectful of others. If we’d have a few of those instead of the arrogance and contentiousness.

Q: What are the issues that you are specifically working on now?

A: My basic issue is Har Habayit [the Temple Mount], and there has been great progress. Three years ago, every Jew who went up would be attacked verbally or physically. We outlawed the Northern Islamic Movement [a radical group paid people to harass Jewish visitors – ed.] … and from 5,000 it jumped to 30,000 visitors in 2017 and this year it will hopefully rise to 45,000.

We’ve added another visiting hour in the winter, so now all year long Jews can go up 5 ½ hours each day. The prime minister is happy more people are going — and that it’s not making headlines. So in terms of progress, it’s not happening as fast as we want, but the fact that the numbers are growing is definitely a positive direction.

In other areas, I’m trying to promote social issues, one of the most important issues being smoking. Almost every day someone dies from car accidents. But 8,000 people a year die from smoking – and there’s no benefit like cars give you in terms of transportation.  We’re very close to getting legislation that I led passed to limit the marketing of cigarettes, and totally banning their display in stores.

A relatively new discovery of mine is that there are many organizations that help army widows and orphans — but what about the others? There’s no official status for an orphan. … I’m starting a conversation [on Dec. 12] in the Ministry of Social Welfare for the first time in 70 years to give them an official status.

I’d also like to lower the divorce rate. For example, studies have shown that divorce is much less common among couples who take courses before marriage in how to communicate with each other. So I’d like the government to encourage couples to do this, perhaps by lowering the cost of the marriage license for those who take such a course.

Finally, I just established the Knesset Caucus for the Mentally Ill with Pnina Tamano-Shata of Yesh Atid.

MK Yehuda Glick (Flash90/Miriam Alster)

Q: What is stopping the illegally built Bedouin outpost Khan Al-Ahmar from being demolished as the Supreme Court ordered?

A: Netanyahu promised it would happen very soon. It hasn’t happened yet because of foreign pressure. We – people involved in this issue – have offered solutions that the prime minister has not accepted, such as that the 40 families who actually live there (vs. a couple hundred activists who just recently moved in) should be able to move to east Jerusalem and get a blue identity card like those residents have. It’s disturbing that it’s taking so long, but Netanyahu promised, so I hope it will happen.

Q: What’s going on with the Settlement Regulation Law? [The Law, passed in February 2017, was meant to normalize the status of thousands of Jewish homes in Area C of Judea and Samaria. The law is currently being challenged in the Supreme Court.]

A: It’s very sad. I raised the issue at the weekly party meeting just yesterday, where the prime minister claimed it’s happening quietly. [But while] the court is discussing the issue, the actual “regularization” of the illegal outposts is something that we can do — but it’s not going as fast as I’d hoped.

Q: What is your view on exerting Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria?

A: I fully support sovereignty. Not only in Area C but A and B as well. I push for it.

Q: Would you give the Arabs who live there the right to vote?

A: I’d give it to them gradually, such as after 10 years of not being involved in terror activities. But I’d also encourage them to leave. Not by force, but with a ‘reverse immigration basket.’ We can take the exact same money we give new immigrants — since we have less aliyah today — and say, for example, that any family who wants to leave to Toronto can have $100,000.

Q: You fared poorly in a poll taken among Likud central committee members last week, with a majority of those who answered (about a third of the members) saying you do not represent the Likud in their eyes. What do you say to that?

A: People expect Likudniks to be a specific copy-paste. I’m not a standard copy-paste but I think I’m strongly attached to the values of the Likud, like in settling the country, the economy, and more.

They don’t like the fact that I meet with the left wing, with Arabs, with Reform Jews. I am who I am and I’m not obsessive about being in politics. I like what I’m doing, I think I’m doing important things, and if Hashem [God] wants me to be there, I’ll be in the Knesset again. I truly feel I’m an integral part of the Likud. But the voters will decide and whatever they decide I’ll respect.

Q: Finally, what do you think will happen with Netanyahu regarding the corruption cases that may be brought against him?

I didn’t read the thousands of documents out there, but until the courts decide otherwise he’s considered innocent. On the other hand, if there is an indictment, I believe he won’t be able to remain prime minister.