Religious-Zionist Camp Split over Vaccine Coercion

In a highly controversial statement, the head of the new ‘Religious Zionist’ party Bezalel Smotrich came out in favor of allowing only those who got vaccinated to enjoy certain privileges including returning to work and going to public places.

Knesset Member Bezalel Smotrich at the Foreign Affair and Defense Committee meeting, discussing the status of illegal building in Area C in the West Bank territories, at the Knesset, on June 14, 2016. (Photo: Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Smotrich told Reshet Bet radio: “Vaccines can certainly be coerced, it doesn’t even have to be physically.”

“For example, We can make entrance into public places conditional [on vaccinations]. The economy will be returned to its normal routine for the vaccinated only. Those who aren’t vaccinated will be denied entrance into school, the supermarket, the mall, the cinema, the theater, the bus.”

His statement was received with a much criticism from his constituency who are mostly right-wing observant Jewish Israelis. Smotrich is running on the same ticket for the upcoming Knesset as Otzma Yehudit head Itamar Ben Gvir who has joined Smotrich’s party to increase his chances of entering the next government following Israel’s March elections. The party is the only one representing the religious right-wing camp who believes in asserting Israeli sovereignty over all of Judea and Samaria and for Israel’s security forces to take a tougher stance on terror.

Otzma head Itamar Ben Gvir (courtesy: Facebook)

Ben Gvir, although in favor of vaccines is against forcing people to take them. He responded to Smotrich’s assertions saying: “As Bezalel emphasizes, we are only a technical bloc, his positions do not bind me. I think it’s good and right to get vaccinated. Hope this is the way to beat the plague. But I am against coercion, and against such and such sanctions. Force does not achieve anything, and in my opinion, to require a vaccine is neither right nor legal.”


Israel in the News