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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Far-Right Israeli Coalition Partner Threatens Government Exit Over Gaza Deal

In a bold move, Itamar Ben-Gvir, a key figure in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition, issued a threat to withdraw from the government if it pursues what he deems a “reckless” deal with Hamas to secure the release of hostages held by the Palestinian militants.

Social Media Declaration

Taking to social media platform X, Ben-Gvir explicitly stated, “Reckless deal = dismantling of the government.” This announcement comes amid swirling media reports suggesting that Israel is contemplating a potential long-term cessation of its offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The reported deal is said to be brokered by Qatar and Egypt.

Far-Right Influence in Netanyahu’s Coalition

Jewish Power, the party represented by Ben-Gvir, holds six seats in Netanyahu’s religious-rightist coalition, which originally had 64 seats in the 120-seat parliament before the eruption of the Gaza war. Notably, during the conflict, Netanyahu included the 12-seat centrist party National Unity in an emergency cabinet.

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Exclusion from Decision-Making

Ben-Gvir and another influential figure, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich of the Religious Zionism party, have expressed discontent over their exclusion from Netanyahu’s war counsel, the small, decision-making group overseeing strategic decisions during the conflict.

Calls for Continuous Offensive

Both Ben-Gvir and Smotrich have been vocal in advocating for a sustained offensive against Hamas, going further to propose the resettlement of Gaza, which Israel withdrew from in 2005. While Netanyahu has rejected the idea of rebuilding Jewish settlements in Gaza, he maintains that post-war Gaza will be under Israeli security control.

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