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Israeli far-right ministers threaten to resign over Gaza ceasefire proposal

Image source, EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

Legend, Itamar Ben-Gvir (left) and Bezalel Smotrich reject US-backed ceasefire deal

  • Author, Jaroslav Lukiv
  • Role, BBC News
  • Report of London

Two far-right Israeli ministers have threatened to quit and collapse the governing coalition if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepts a Gaza ceasefire proposal unveiled by US President Joe Biden on Friday.

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir said they were opposed to reaching a deal before Hamas was destroyed.

But opposition leader Yair Lapid pledged to back the government if Mr Netanyahu backed the plan.

The prime minister himself insisted that there would be no permanent truce until Hamas’s military and government capabilities were destroyed and all hostages were released.

Mr. Biden’s three-part proposal would begin with a six-week ceasefire during which the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) would withdraw from populated areas of Gaza. The agreement would ultimately lead to the release of all hostages, a permanent “cessation of hostilities” and a vast reconstruction plan for Gaza.

But in a social media post on Saturday, Mr. Smotrich said he told Mr. Netanyahu that he “would not be part of a government that would accept the proposed outline and end the war without destroying Hamas and bring back all the hostages.

Echoing his remarks, Mr. Ben-Gvir said that “the agreement…means the end of the war and the abandonment of the goal of destroying Hamas. This is an irresponsible agreement, which constitutes a victory for terrorism and a threat to the security of the State of Israel.

He promised to “dissolve the government” rather than accept the proposal.

Mr Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition holds a slim majority in parliament, drawing on a multitude of factions, including Mr Ben-Gvir’s Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) party – which holds six seats – and the Religious Zionism party of Mr. Smotrich – who holds seven seats – to retain power.

But Yair Lapid, one of Israel’s most influential opposition politicians, was quick to offer his support to the embattled prime minister. His Yesh Atid (There is a Future) party holds 24 seats.

He said Mr. Netanyahu “has our safety net for a hostage deal if Ben-Gvir and Smotrich leave the government.”

The row came as tens of thousands of people rallied in Tel Aviv, calling on the Israeli government to accept Mr Biden’s proposed plan.

Many protesters also demanded Mr Netanyahu’s resignation and some told reporters they feared the prime minister would torpedo the proposal.

A group campaigning to repatriate Israeli hostages captured by Hamas has warned that such a move would endanger the lives of those held in Gaza.

Scuffles broke out between protesters and police, who used mounted officers and water cannons to disperse the crowds. Some demonstrators were reportedly arrested.

Protests have become commonplace in Tel Aviv in recent months, as hostage families and other anti-government activists have held rallies calling for a hostage deal – as well as Mr Netanyahu’s resignation or calling elections.

In a joint statement on Saturday, Egyptian, Qatari and US mediators urged Israel and Hamas to “finalize” the deal proposed by Mr Biden.

The officials said that “as mediators in ongoing discussions to secure a ceasefire in Gaza and the release of hostages and detainees,” they “call on both Hamas and Israel to finalize the agreement embodying the principles set forth by President Joe Biden.”

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also threw his support behind the plan, telling reporters that his government could “flood Gaza with a lot more help” if Hamas agreed to the ceasefire plan.

Earlier, a senior Hamas politician told the BBC that he would “accept this deal” if Israel did so.

But in a statement on Saturday, Mr. Netanyahu’s office said that “Israel’s conditions for ending the war have not changed.”

He lists them as “the destruction of Hamas’ military and government capabilities, the release of all hostages, and ensuring that Gaza no longer poses a threat to Israel.”

The statement added that Israel “will continue to insist that these conditions are met” before agreeing to a permanent ceasefire.

Image source, AFP via Getty Images

Legend, Fighting continues in Rafah, where many Palestinians from across the Gaza Strip have sought refuge

Elsewhere, fighting continued in Rafah on Saturday, with reports of Israeli airstrikes on the southern Gaza town on the Egyptian border.

Bombings and gunfire were also reported in Gaza City, in the north of the Palestinian territory.

More than 36,000 people have been killed in Gaza since the start of the conflict, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

The war began on October 7, 2023 when Hamas gunmen launched an unprecedented attack on Israel, killing around 1,200 people and taking 252 hostages back to Gaza.

News Source : www.bbc.com
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jack colman

With a penchant for words, jack began writing at an early age. As editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, he honed his skills telling impactful stories. Smith went on to study journalism at Columbia University, where he graduated top of his class. After interning at the New York Times, jack landed a role as a news writer. Over the past decade, he has covered major events like presidential elections and natural disasters. His ability to craft compelling narratives that capture the human experience has earned him acclaim. Though writing is his passion, jack also enjoys hiking, cooking and reading historical fiction in his free time. With an eye for detail and knack for storytelling, he continues making his mark at the forefront of journalism.
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