update deskIsrael at War

Ben-Gvir suspends gov’t role until terms of ceasefire deal made clear

The Religious Zionism-Otzma Yehudit faction holds 14 seats in the Knesset and plays a pivotal role in maintaining Netanyahu's 64-member coalition.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir at the Knesset in Jerusalem. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir at the Knesset in Jerusalem. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90.

Otzma Yehudit Party leader Itamar Ben-Gvir on Wednesday said he would suspend his role in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition until the premier revealed the details of the ceasefire proposal announced by U.S. President Joe Biden on Friday.

“As long as the prime minister continues to hide the details of the deal, Otzma Yehudit will disrupt his coalition,” tweeted the right-wing leader, who also serves as Israel’s national security minister.

The proposal was announced publicly by Biden in a televised address on Friday. Calling it an Israeli proposal, the agreement laid out by the White House on Friday suggests a “permanent” end to hostilities and the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip.

The U.S. leader claimed his administration wants to see a future “without Hamas in power,” but described a series of steps that did not include the elimination of the terror group or its surrender.

Biden’s announcement led to pushback within the Israeli coalition, with Ben-Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich (Religious Zionism Party) threatening to bolt the government if the deal was implemented.

Ben-Gvir on Saturday night called the deal as outlined by Biden “surrender” to Hamas, saying it obliged Israel to end the war without achieving its aim of destroying the terror group.

“This is a reckless deal, which is a victory for terrorism and a security danger to the State of Israel. Agreeing to such a deal is not absolute victory—but absolute defeat. We will not allow the end of the war without the complete elimination of Hamas,” he tweeted.

“Should the prime minister implement this reckless deal under the conditions published today…Otzma Yehudit will dissolve the government,” Ben-Gvir concluded.

The combined Religious Zionism-Otzma Yehudit faction holds 14 seats in the Knesset, meaning it plays a pivotal role in maintaining Netanyahu’s 64-member coalition, elected in November 2022.

Earlier this week, Israel Hayom quoted sources in Netanyahu’s office as saying that the premier intended to show Ben-Gvir the full draft of the agreement.

During a closed-door meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday, Netanyahu told lawmakers he would “not describe the details of the deal,” adding however that Biden’s portrayal of Jerusalem’s negotiating position was “not accurate.”

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