JERUSALEM (JTA) — A right-wing Israeli lawmaker said he wants to be the country’s justice minister so his religious party can “restore the Torah justice system.”
Bezalel Smotrich of the Union of Right-Wing Parties, which includes his Jewish Home party, made the statement Sunday night at a Jerusalem Day event at the Mercaz Harav yeshiva in Jerusalem. On Monday morning he doubled down on the statement in an interview on the Kan national broadcaster.
“The State of Israel, the country of the Jewish people, with God willing, will go back to operating as it did in the days of King David and King Solomon,” he told Kan.
“I want the State of Israel to operate according to the Torah in the long run. That’s how it should be, it’s a Jewish state,” he also said, adding that the Torah law would be observed “according to today’s spirit, today’s economy and how society lives in 2019.”
Smotrich called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to name him interim justice minister in the wake of Netanyahu’s firing of Ayelet Shaked from the position.
Avigdor Liberman, who heads the Yisrael Beiteinu party, slammed Smotrich after saying last week that he cannot be part of a “halachic government” over the demands of the haredi Orthodox parties.
“These are no longer comments coming from a delusional hilltop youth, but a statement of intent,” he said of Smotrich, a West Bank resident. “We will prevent that, we won’t lend those efforts a hand. Jewish law is an important and critical part of the Israeli justice system, but Israeli law cannot be Torah law.”
Smotrich has called himself a “proud homophobe” and called the Jerusalem Pride Parade an “abomination parade.” He was slammed in 2016 for saying that Arab and Jewish women should be put in separate rooms in the maternity wards of Israeli hospitals. He also called Reform Judaism a “fake religion.”