Netanyahu rebukes MK who said Israel should be governed by Jewish law

“The State of Israel will not be a halachic state,” Netanyahu said, referring to the Hebrew word for Jewish law.

By Benjamin Kerstein, The Algemeiner

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday publicly rebuked an MK and potential government minister who called for Israel to be governed by Jewish law, the Hebrew news site Mako reported.

“The State of Israel will not be a halachic state,” Netanyahu said in a terse response to Bezalel Smotrich of the United Right party, who has been mooted as a possible education or justice minister.

Earlier in the day, Smotrich had told two Israeli media outlets, “The State of Israel will be run, God willing, as it was run during the days of King David and King Solomon — according to Torah law.”

Bezalel Smotrich

MK Bezalel Smotrich (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Blue and White party co-chairman Yair Lapid slammed Smotrich as well, saying, “Anyone who hears Smotrich explain that he wants to be justice minister so there will be Torah law and a halachic state in Israel can understand everything insane about the days we’re living in.”

Criticism came from the right as well, with Yisrael Beiteinu head Avigdor Lieberman noting that Smotrich was not a young settler extremist, but rather “a serious candidate for the Justice Ministry!”

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“I was astounded when I saw it,” Lieberman said of Smotrich’s statement.

Head of the left-wing Meretz party Tamar Zandberg compared Smotrich’s vision to the television series The Handmaid’s Tale, and said Smotrich should be blocked from holding government office, stating, “It is clear that there cannot be a justice minister serving in Israel who wants to establish a theocracy.”