Deputy Economy Minister Yair Golan faced backlash from fellow lawmakers after he labeled Jewish settlers "subhuman."
Giving an interview to the Knesset Channel, Golan used the epithet in reference to the inhabitants of the wildcat Homesh outpost in the northern West Bank that was cleared by Israeli authorities earlier in the week.
"The place was cleared by law. No one is supposed to be there... Why doesn't anybody mention the fact these people who settle there attack the village of Burka, smash headstones, wage a pogrom," he said. "We, the Jewish people who have suffered pogroms throughout history, pogrom others? Smashing headstones?
These are not humans, they are subhuman. They are abject people and the ruin of the Jewish people. We must not give them any backing. They must be forcibly removed from the area so that law and order can be restored. This nationalist and extremist rampage will bring disaster upon us. These are people who want to annex millions of Palestinians."
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who leads the ultranationalist right-wing Yamina party and himself a former settler leader, rebuked Golan for his statement.
"Yair Golan's words regarding the settlers in Homesh are abhorrent, generalizing and border blood libel," Bennett tweeted. "Settling Judea and Samaria [the West Bank's biblical name'] is the pioneership of our time."
Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, also of Yamina, also took to Twitter to vent out at the former deputy military chief.
"Yair Golan's words are disgraceful and put shame on his past," she wrote. "The settlers in Homesh are pioneers, lovers of the land. The yeshiva in Homesh spreads the Torah and light, driving out a little of all this darkness. Yair Golan can keep talking a blue streak while the wonderful pioneers continue to settle the land."
Former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who heads the conservative pro-settlement Likud Party, went as far as to draw a comparison between Golan's words and Nazi-era rhetoric used against the Jews.
"The settlers in Judea and Samaria are not 'subhuman' as Deputy Minister Yair Golan — a member of the Bennett government — referred to them today. The settlers are Zionist pioneers who settle our ancestral land," the opposition leader said. "After this shameful statement, which is taken straight of Nazi terminology for the Jewish people, Bennett must fire Yair Golan today."
Even members of Golan's own left-wing Meretz Party, which opposes Israeli presence in the West Bank, expressed discomfort with his fiery statements.
"The Homesh settlers are not subhuman, they are outlaws and should be cleared from the area," Meretz MK Michal Rozin wrote on Twitter.