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More coalition trouble for Netanyahu, Jewish Power party cancels this week’s security meetings to continue boycott

Ben Gvir reportedly making demands, Netanyahu is so far unwilling to comply

Committee head Zvika Fogel leads a National Security Committee meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, May 3, 2023. (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The chairperson of the Israeli Knesset’s National Security Committee canceled all security meetings scheduled for this week.

Knesset Member Zvika Fogel of the Jewish Power party canceled this week’s meeting as the party continues its boycott of the Israeli Cabinet and Knesset voting sessions.

The boycott began last week, when National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir announced that his party, Jewish Power, would not attend Knesset votes until it is given “significant influence” over national security policy. On Sunday morning, Jewish Power ministers boycotted the weekly Cabinet meeting, citing “unacceptable” decisions.

“In the past few days, the prime minister and defense minister continue with their policy, freeing the Jordanian terrorist [referring to Jordanian parliament member Imad al-Adwan, arrested for smuggling weapons], releasing the bodies of terrorists and more. This is unacceptable and cannot continue,” Ben Gvir said in a statement.

“The policy must change, the government must shift to a fully right-wing policy. We received a mandate from the public to change direction – and this must happen," he added.

Ben Gvir also criticized Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant's decision to release the bodies of several terrorists to the Palestinian Authority, saying it was “a serious mistake that will cost us dearly.”

Gallant brushed off the remark, saying he was not bothered by criticism from a minister who “has seen fewer bodies of terrorists than me.”

Likud party Knesset Member Ofir Akunis, in an interview with Israel’s Kan News broadcaster, called on Ben Gvir to stop acting “childishly.”

“I wholeheartedly suggest to Minister Ben Gvir that he concentrate on the areas of his ministry and not childishly boycott government meetings and votes in the Knesset,” Akunis said, adding that Ben Gvir “needs to understand that he is no longer an opposition Knesset member and not an ordinary citizen, he is a minister in a government that has collective and ministerial responsibility for him.”

“I suggest that he deal immediately with what he promised, and that many Israeli citizens believed, regarding governance. The violence on the roads and in the Arab sector is intolerable, and I say this as a civilian,” Akunis said of Ben Gvir.

Israel is currently facing a problem with a growing rate of violence, especially domestic violence against women and criminal violence in the Arab sector. Critics say Ben Gvir has done nothing to address those issues since filling the role of national security minister.

As part of a deal for Ben Gvir to return to Cabinet meetings and Knesset voting sessions, he has reportedly made the following demands; the Israel Defense Forces conduct a military operation in the West Bank, also known as Judea and Samaria, to target terror groups; at least parts of the judicial reform legislation must be resumed; tougher conditions for Palestinian prisoners

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has so far been unwilling to give in to Ben Gvir’s demands. However, without Jewish Power party’s six votes, the coalition has a narrow 58-56 majority. Some laws need a 61 vote majority to be passed, meaning the government's legislative agenda could be thwarted.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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