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Netanyahu defends partnership with hard-line Jewish ultra-nationalist party

Binyamin Netanyahu attacked his critics in a tweet on Saturday [AFP]

Date of publication: 24 February, 2019

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Israel's prime minister has defended his partnership with a hardline Jewish group inspired by a radical rabbi who advocated the forced expulsion of Palestinians.

Israel's prime minister is defending his partnership with a small ultra-nationalist party amid local and international condemnation of his dealings in seeking a fourth straight term as premier in Israel's April elections.

Binyamin Netanyahu tweeted on Saturday that the criticism, including from pro-Israel Jewish organisations in the US, was marked by "hypocrisy and double standards".

He accused leftist critics in Israel of having once acted "to put extreme Islamists into the Knesset" to weaken the right.

Earlier this week, Netanyahu's Likud party formed a partnership with a smaller merged party that includes members of the Jewish Power movement.

Jewish Power embraces the ideas of the late rabbi Meir Kahane, who wanted a Jewish theocracy and advocated forced removal of Palestinians.

Kahanists have been known to carry out deadly attacks against Palestinians, including in 2005, when a 19-year-old Israeli soldier affiliated with with the Kahane-inspired Kach Party deserted his unit and opened fire on a bus, killing four Arab-Israelis.

A Kach supporter, Baruch Goldstein, was also behind the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre in 1994, when 29 people were shot to death at the prominent Hebron religious site.

The Kach movement has been classified as a terrorist organisation by Washington since 1997.

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