Israel moves to rein in right-wing extremists
Just ahead of the anniversary of the killing of Yitzhak Rabin – the former Israeli prime minister murdered by a Jewish extemist in 1995 – security forces publicized the arrest of Yaakov Teitel. Murder accusations against Teitel are again fanning concern in Israel about nationalist vigilantes.
Shvut Rachel, West Bank
A US native from this isolated settlement was arrested by Israeli security services nearly a month ago amid allegations that he killed two Palestinians more than a decade ago and attempted to murder two others more recently. The local media are calling it the latest case of Jewish terrorism.Skip to next paragraph
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The accusations against Yaakov Teitel, the son of a US Navy dentist, is fanning concern in Israel that nationalist vigilantes in Israel still have the ability to carry out attacks aimed at sabotaging peace negotiations and expected land concessions.
The case is even more loaded because security services publicized it Sunday – just days before the Nov. 4 anniversary of the 1995 assassination of Yitzhak Rabin by Jewish extremist Yigal Amir, which derailed the peace process for years.
"Tough decisions are right around the corner. With [US President Barack] Obama's pressure to move toward negotiations, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is liable to make unpopular decisions," says Yaron Ezrahi, a professor at Hebrew University. "This is a reminder of the need to deal with these people and not to allow them to threaten decision makers."
Late Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement that Israel must fight a "marginal minority" of extreme nationalists threatening Israel's democracy.
Teitel from religious home in US
Raised in a fervently religious home in Virginia, Teitel formed friendships when he first visited Israel in the 1990s with young ideological settlers who were setting up outposts on empty hilltops across the West Bank.
According to Israeli security services, Teitel, on an extended visit to Israel in 1997, allegedly killed a Palestinian taxi driver in Jerusalem and a shepherd in the southern West Bank within a few months of each other. Though Israeli police interrogated him in one of the killings, he was let go.