June 22, 2024

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Two far-right Israeli ministers threaten to topple the government if it accepts Biden’s peace plan

Two far-right Israeli ministers threaten to topple the government if it accepts Biden’s peace plan

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Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich (left) and National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir (right).


Two far-right Israeli ministers have threatened to resign and topple Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling coalition if he accepts elections Peace proposal Developed by US President Joe Biden.

Biden on Friday unveiled what he said was a three-stage Israeli proposal to end the conflict in Gaza that would pair the hostage release with a “full and complete ceasefire.”

During a speech at the White House, Biden said that Hamas had deteriorated to the point that it could no longer carry out the type of attack seen on October 7 that launched the current war in Gaza.

He said: “It is time to end this war,” in a clear indication that the Israeli war goals had been achieved for him.

But the two most prominent members of the extreme right in the Israeli government, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, made it clear that they reject an immediate ceasefire. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also indicated he is not ready either, casting doubt on Biden’s proposal.

In a statement on social media, Smotrich said he had “made clear” to Netanyahu that he “will not be part of a government that agrees to the proposed outlines and ends the war without destroying Hamas and returning all the hostages.”

Smotrich called for the continuation of the fighting until “the elimination of Hamas and the return of all hostages,” as well as “the creation of a completely different security reality in Gaza and Lebanon.”

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At the same time, National Security Minister Ben Gvir described the deal as “reckless” and a “victory for terrorism,” as well as a security risk to Israel.

He said: “If the prime minister implements the reckless deal with the conditions published today, which means the end of the war and abandoning the elimination of Hamas, Otzma Yehudit will dissolve the government,” referring to the far-right party. He leads and helps support Netanyahu’s majority in parliament.

Biden had alluded to tensions in the Israeli government in his speech, and made a direct appeal to ordinary Israelis to express their support.

“I know that there are those in Israel who will not agree to this plan and will call for the war to continue indefinitely. Some, and even others, are in the government coalition.”

The proposal first stipulates the release of the hostages and Israel’s withdrawal from “all populated areas of Gaza,” and ultimately culminates in a reconstruction plan for Gaza, which has been left in ruins from the fighting.

The plan was widely welcomed, with the United Nations and other international powers urging Israel and Hamas to accept it.

Hamas said it views the plan “positively” and is ready “to deal positively and constructively with any proposal based on a permanent ceasefire.”

Less than an hour after Biden detailed the proposal, Netanyahu insisted that Israel would not end the war in Gaza until it achieved all of its goals, including destroying Hamas.

The extent to which Netanyahu agrees with the plan is unclear, as the statement also said that the “careful outline” of the Israeli proposal allows Israel to “preserve these principles.”

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Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Galant warned on Sunday that Israel “will not accept” any agreement to end the war that allows Hamas to control Gaza. During a visit to the IDF’s Southern Command headquarters on Sunday, Gallant said options for “alternative governance for Hamas” were being considered.

“We will not accept Hamas’ rule in Gaza at any stage of any process aimed at ending the war,” Gallant said, according to a statement issued by his office.

However, Hamas has made clear that it will not accept any other group ruling Gaza. On May 16, the group’s political leader, Ismail Haniyeh, noted that regarding “the day after the war,” there were “calls to remove Hamas.”

Haniyeh responded: “We say that Hamas is here to stay.”

On Sunday, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the administration was “currently awaiting a formal response from Hamas” to Israel’s ceasefire proposal.

Asked whether there would be a situation in which Hamas agrees to the proposal but Israel does not, Kirby said on ABC’s “This Week” that the Biden administration has “every expectation” that Israel will agree.

Kirby added: “We have every expectation that if Hamas agrees to the proposal, as was conveyed to them, which is an Israeli proposal, then Israel will say yes.”

Netanyahu faces pressure not only from within his coalition. On Saturday, demonstrators again took to the streets, demanding his resignation and early elections.

Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid offered to support Netanyahu in accepting the proposal, and condemned Smotrich and Ben Gvir’s statements.

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He said: “Ben Gvir and Smotrich’s threats are a neglect of national security, the hostages, and the residents of the north and south.”

“This is the worst and most reckless government in the history of the country. For them, there will be war here forever, zero responsibility, zero management, complete failure.

Netanyahu’s government faces increasing international calls to end the war in Gaza as the conflict approaches its ninth month.

The war was sparked by Hamas attacks on Israeli civilians on October 7, which left about 1,200 people dead and saw more than 200 people taken hostage. The Israeli campaign on Gaza since then has killed more than 36,000 people.