Israel minister says Palestinian planned to kill him

JERUSALEM (AFP): Israel’s controversial far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir said on Tuesday police had arrested a Palestinian who planned to assassinate him.

A statement from his office said the man, who was not identified, was arrested several weeks ago.

“The Arab suspect, a Jerusalem resident, who was planning to assassinate National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, was arrested a few weeks ago by police in cooperation with Shin Bet, the internal security service,” the statement said.

Ben-Gvir, who heads the Jewish Power party, has a history of inflammatory remarks about Palestinians.

The statement came after an upsurge of deadly violence in the occupied West Bank, where he lives.

Dozens of settlers went on the rampage in the northern West Bank overnight Sunday-Monday after two Israeli brothers were shot dead as they drove through the town of Huwara.

Ben-Gvir was appointed to his key security post in the new government sworn in on December 29 and led by Israel’s veteran Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Ben-Gvir advocates the annexation by Israel of the West Bank and the transfer to neighboring countries of some of the Israeli Arabs, descendants of Palestinians who stayed on their land after Israel’s creation in 1948.

Ben-Gvir has also been pushing a controversial bill on the death penalty for those convicted of “terrorist” attacks that cost the lives of Israelis.

The statement said the suspect allegedly gathered information on the minister’s movements and received funds from “terrorist elements from a neighboring state,” which was not named.

Ben-Gvir was once deemed a pariah in Israel’s political arena.

In his youth, he was charged more than 50 times for incitement to violence or hate speech.

Now one of the most prominent figures in Israeli politics, the father-of-six lives in a radical settlement in the West Bank and frequently appears at scenes of tension in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.