There has been an outcry in Israel after the foreign minister said that disloyal Israeli Arabs should have their heads chopped off.
Avigdor Lieberman was speaking at a pre-election conference on Sunday.
The leader of the right-wing nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party, an outspoken critic of Israel’s Arab population, was responding to a question from an Arab Israeli about Lieberman’s policies.
“I would like to say – whoever’s with us should get everything, as they wish, but those who are against us, there’s nothing to be done – we need to pick up an axe and cut off their heads. Otherwise we won’t survive here,” the foreign minister replied, to applause from the audience.
The parliamentary election on March 17 looks set to be a close race.
Polls last week suggested the opposition was ahead but that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – with the backing of right-wing parties such as Lieberman’s, could form another coalition government.
The Arab parties’ Joint List labelled the foreign minister the “Jewish Islamic State”.
Ahmed Tibi, a member of the Knesset, added in comments reported in the Jerusalem Post that it would “remove the heads of racists and fascists only through democratic means”.
Uniting four Arab parties under one banner for the first time, the Joint Arab List has high hopes from the election. Surveys suggest it could even finish third in the vote and play a role in coalition-building.
No party in Israel has ever won an outright parliamentary majority.