Ben-Gvir and Smotrich threaten to topple Netanyahu over ceasefire deal

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Ben-Gvir and Smotrich threaten to topple Netanyahu over ceasefire deal

President Biden announced on Friday that Israel had agreed in principle to a three-phase ceasefire deal with Hamas, which would release all hostages and end the war

Netanyahu speaks with Religious Zionist party head MK Bezalel SmotrichYonatan Sindel/Flash90
Netanyahu speaks with Religious Zionist party head MK Bezalel SmotrichYonatan Sindel/Flash90

Finance Minister Betzalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir have threatened to topple Prime Minister Netanyahu if he backs a ceasefire deal with Hamas. 

President Biden announced on Friday that Israel had agreed in principle to a three-phase ceasefire deal with Hamas, which includes:

  • The release of all hostages in exchange for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners. The first phase would see the release of women of women and children, while the next phases would free soldiers as well as dead hostages.
  • 600 trucks with humanitarian aid entering Gaza every day
  • Israeli withdrawal of all populated areas in Gaza in the first phase and finally a full withdrawal from all of Gaza in the second phase.
  • Arab Nations and international organisations rebuilding schools, hospitals, and homes in Gaza
  • Permanent ceasefire

“At this point, Hamas no longer is capable of carrying out another October 7, just one of Israel’s main objectives in this war, and quite frankly a righteous one,” Biden said as he presented the plan at the White House, adding that the ball is in Hamas’ court now.

Prime Minister Netanyahu seemed to push back at the plan after it was announced, despite the war cabinet telling Washington that it had agreed on it.

“The proposal that Biden presented is incomplete. The war will stop in order to bring hostages back, and afterward we will hold discussions. There are other details that the US president did not present to the public,” Netanyahu said on Monday.

On Friday, the prime minister’s office issued a statement on Friday, shortly after Biden’s announcement.

“Israel’s conditions for ending the war have not changed: the destruction of Hamas’s military and governing capabilities, the freeing of all hostages and ensuring that Gaza no longer poses a threat to Israel. Under the proposal, Israel will continue to insist these conditions are met before a permanent ceasefire is put in place. The notion that Israel will agree to a permanent ceasefire before these conditions are fulfilled is a non-starter,” a statement said.

Both Ben-Gvir and Smotrich threatened to resign from government if Israel agrees to the ceasefire laid out by Biden.

“I made clear to him that I will not be part of a government that agrees to the proposed outline and ends the war without destroying Hamas and bringing back all the hostages. We will not agree to end the war before the destruction of Hamas — not to the grave harm that an IDF retreat (from Gaza) would cause to the achievements of the war thus far, not to the return of Gazans to northern Gaza, and not to the wholesale release of terrorists who will return, God forbid, to murdering Jews,” Smotrich said.

Ben-Gvir issued a similar threat to Netanyahu, saying: “The deal according to the details that have been published today would mean ending the war and giving up on destroying Hamas. This is a reckless deal that would be a victory for terrorism and a security risk for the State of Israel.”

“If the prime minister puts this deal into action under the conditions that have been published today, the meaning of which is the end of the war and abandoning [the goal of] destroying Hamas, Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) will dismantle the government,” he added.

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