Meet the New MK: Yinon Magal

"Palestinian state is a dangerous left-wing delusion," Magal says.

Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett (R) welcomes veteran television news anchor Yinon Magal (photo credit: FACEBOOK)
Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett (R) welcomes veteran television news anchor Yinon Magal
(photo credit: FACEBOOK)
Name: Yinon Magal
Party: Bayit Yehudi
Age: 45
Hometown: Tel Aviv
Family status: Married with four children
Profession before becoming an MK: Journalist, most recently editor-in-chief of the Walla news website.
Why did you decide to enter politics?
I think it’s a place where I can have influence and change policies and laws. That’s where the decisions are made.
What are the first three bills you plan to propose?
I don’t know yet, but there are some things I have in mind. I’m interested in matters of religion and state, freedom of the individual, Jewish identity, IDF soldiers, nature and the environment – a lot of areas.
You famously said in an interview you gave after entering politics that you recently smoked marijuana – what about that? I think legalization of cannabis is connected to freedom of the individual.
What was the most interesting experience on the campaign trail? I took part in a lot of panels. That was challenging and interesting. We were in the heart of the story with LGBT rights [in which activists protested Bayit Yehudi’s opposition to gay marriage at many events], which was difficult throughout the campaign. I was able to test myself in standing before a crowd and relaying our agenda, and dealing with pressure. It was interesting, challenging – and tiring.
This Knesset has a record high number of women and Israeli Arabs. How do you think this will affect the way it functions and the kinds of changes it brings? With women I don’t see a big difference. I don’t think there’s a difference between men and women in parliamentary activity. It’s good that more women are able to express themselves, but I don’t think [gender] influences the nature of the work.
About Arabs, they will have more power and I hope that will help the Arab population exercise the full, equal rights they deserve. I also hope it won’t result in continued incitement and lack of integrity and fairness by Arab MKs toward the State of Israel, and that it will lead Israeli Arabs to do civilian service and contribute their part, like any other citizen.
What is your position on talks with the Palestinian Authority and a possible Palestinian state? I’m against a Palestinian state. I think it’s a delusion that the Left developed 20 years ago. They sold us a fantasy that is impossible, will endanger Israel and will be a catalyst for terrorism. It is inconceivable to give them a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria with an army, or territorial continuity [with Gaza]. The only option is to give them autnonomy-plus; let them fully run their own civilian lives and elect a parliament. If they want to live in peace, we will.
What impact do you think the tension in US-Israel relations will have on us in the next few years? Unfortunately, we are dealing with a US president who is hostile to Israel. I hope that, in the end, this won’t deteriorate to measures that will hurt Israel. I hope very much that the tension will decrease and the US will understand that we are just trying to defend our right to live here securely.
What should the government’s response be to growing global anti-Semitism? I think on principle we need to say the place for Jews is Israel. That even applies to our brothers who are living well in the US. What I mean is that only here is a Jew free and this is his place. Beyond that, we are not responsible for anti-Semitism among the non-Jews. We have to try to make sure it doesn’t develop into monstrous dimensions like it did in the past.
Do you support maintaining the status quo on religion and state – including issues like marriage, public transportation on Shabbat, kashrut and others? We either have to maintain the status quo, or we have to open everything and build a new status quo, in which each side shows understanding and tolerance of the others. In some places, religious people will have to give in for the sake of freedom of the individual, and in others, secular people will have to give in for the sake of Israel’s public Jewish identity. We need to see if we can have public transportation on Shabbat in places where it doesn’t bother people, like between cities, but we have to make sure that in cities, where there is a population, the character of Shabbat, as a day of rest and a holy day of value for Jewish people, is maintained. We need a solution for those who cannot get married according to Jewish law and for LGBT people.
What can be done to lower the cost of housing? Build a lot. And maybe consider increasing taxes on investment properties, for people who don’t live in the apartment they own, not for their first home.
What should the government do to lower the poverty rate?
We mainly have to increase freedom and break up the cartels and corporations that prevent competition.
Is there something else people should know about you? I am first of all a Jew.
Magal’s final statement is a reference to one he made during Operation Protective Edge, saying at a conference last summer that he is first Jewish, then Israeli, then a journalist, and adding: “Walla readers expect me to cover this as an Israeli journalist. I am not from the UN and I am not CNN.”