update deskIsrael at War

Smotrich: Gov’t has ‘no right to exist’ if Rafah op canceled

New terms conveyed to mediator Egypt include a willingness to discuss the "restoration of sustainable calm" in Gaza.

Israeli Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with Religious Zionism Party head Bezalel Smotrich during a vote at the Knesset in Jerusalem, Dec. 20, 2022. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
Israeli Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with Religious Zionism Party head Bezalel Smotrich during a vote at the Knesset in Jerusalem, Dec. 20, 2022. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

The government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will lose its legitimacy if it accepts the “humiliating surrender” proposed to Hamas during ongoing hostages-for-ceasefire-and-terrorists negotiations, Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said on Sunday.

Axios reported on Saturday that the deal being discussed includes significant compromises by Israel and that, for the first time, Jerusalem is considering ending the war in the Gaza Strip.

New terms conveyed to mediator Egypt include a willingness to discuss the “restoration of sustainable calm” in Gaza.

Netanyahu previously dismissed the terrorist group’s demand to end the war before it is totally defeated as “delusional.”

In a video message, Smotrich urged the premier to order the Israel Defense Forces to immediately enter the last Hamas stronghold of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip “with all its might.”

Agreeing to the terms currently on the table would be tantamount to “a victory for the Nazis at the expense of hundreds of brave IDF soldiers who fell in battle. It would impose a death sentence on the [133 remaining] hostages and, above all, constitute an immediate existential danger to the State of Israel,” said Smotrich.

“Egyptian-brokered deals that finished previous rounds [of warfare] and left Hamas alive and kicking, and allowed it to strengthen time and time again and slaughter Israeli citizens in a way that hasn’t happened since the Holocaust, is exactly how you’ve [Netanyahu] led [Israel] for the past two decades. It’s exactly what we all promised would not be repeated this time,” added the minister.

“If, God forbid, you decide to wave a white flag by canceling the order to immediately occupy Rafah and complete the mission of destroying Hamas, restoring security to the residents of the south and to the citizens of Israel and returning all our hostages—our brothers and sisters—to their homes, your government will have no right to exist,” stated Smotrich.

Jerusalem has repeatedly emphasized that telling Israel to refrain from operating in Rafah is equivalent to demanding that it lose the war.

Many of the 133 hostages still in the hands of Hamas more than 200 days after the Oct. 7 massacre are believed to be held in Rafah. IDF special forces rescued two captives from the city in February.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said on Saturday that the offensive in Rafah would be suspended if a deal to free some of the abductees held in the coastal enclave is secured.

You have read 3 articles this month.
Register to receive full access to JNS.

Just before you scroll on...

Israel is at war.

JNS is combating the stream of misinformation on Israel with real, honest and factual reporting. In order to deliver this in-depth, unbiased coverage of Israel and the Jewish world, we rely on readers like you.

The support you provide allows our journalists to deliver the truth, free from bias and hidden agendas. Can we count on your support?

Every contribution, big or small, helps JNS.org remain a trusted source of news you can rely on.

Become a part of our mission by donating today
Topics
Comments
Thank you. You are a loyal JNS Reader.
You have read more than 10 articles this month.
Please register for full access to continue reading and post comments.
Never miss a thing
Get the best stories faster with JNS breaking news updates