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New Hope party leader Gideon Sa’ar exits Netanyahu government following exclusion from War Cabinet

Head of New Hope party Minister Gideon Saar, leads a faction meeting, at the Knesset in Jerusalem, March 18, 2024. (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Israeli lawmaker Gideon Sa’ar, who heads the four-seat New Hope party, announced his resignation from the Netanyahu-led coalition government after being excluded from the War Cabinet amid Israel's ongoing war with the terrorist organization Hamas.

Sa'ar's departure reduces the coalition government's size from 76 to 72 seats, however, the government maintains a solid majority, holding well above the necessary minimum of 61 out of the Knesset's 120 total seats.

As a former member of the Likud party, which is led by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Sa'ar has emerged as a vocal, political rival. However, he supports Netanyahu’s stated war goal of dismantling the Hamas terror group's military and political power.

“I believed and I still believe that [our goals] are ambitious but achievable,” Sa’ar said, but criticized the government for being too slow in implementing this goal.

“To destroy the military power of Hamas, it was necessary to act on a faster schedule,” he said, blaming the prime minister for the diminished intensity of military action against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Sa’ar also accused the Netanyahu government of failing to effectively handle the problem of Hamas diverting a significant portion of the humanitarian aid intended for the coastal enclave.

“Hamas’ takeover of humanitarian aid also distances us from the overthrow of its rule. We have been warning about this for months,” the Israeli lawmaker added.

Sa’ar expressed his unwillingness to be part of a government where he could not actively influence its policies for the benefit of Israeli society.

“But I cannot bear responsibility as long as I have no… practical ability to influence the direction of policy. I just don’t see any use in it anymore. We did not come to the government to warm chairs. We came to the government – which we opposed – to help the people of Israel in a difficult time.”

The bulk of the Hamas terror group's remaining forces are concentrated in Rafah, a city in southern Gaza near the Egyptian border. The Israeli government has repeatedly stated its intentions to eliminate these Hamas forces in Rafah and is waiting for approval to initiate a ground incursion.

The Biden administration expressed strong support for Israel’s right to self-defense following the Hamas Oct. 7 massacres. However, Washington has increasingly joined the international community in voicing concerns about the growing humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.

The military operation against Hamas operatives in Rafah is complicated by the presence of over one million Gazan civilians in the area. U.S. President Joe Biden recently told Netanyahu he opposes IDF troops entering Rafah without first presenting a plan on how to protect the civilian population.

The key question at hand is whether time is running out for Israel in its objective to dismantle the remaining Hamas forces.

On Monday, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza after the Biden administration abstained from the vote.

While Jerusalem and Washington share the goal of defeating Hamas, there are growing tensions between the two allies concerning how to achieve this objective.

Following a high-level meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant emphasized that only a decisive victory against Hamas would end the war.

“During our discussion, I emphasized that Israel will not cease operating in Gaza until the return of all the hostages. Only a decisive victory will bring to an end of this war,” Gallant stated.

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

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