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Tempers flare in coalition infighting over reported weapons transfer to Palestinian Authority

Ben Gvir threatens Netanyahu if he doesn't publicly deny the reports

Itamar Ben Gvir, head of the Jewish Power party at an election campaign event in Sderot, October 26, 2022. (Photo: Flash90)

Following reports from Palestinian news media on Monday that the US government had provided armored vehicles and rifles to the Palestinian Authority with the Israeli government’s blessing, several coalition members expressed their outrage at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich was furious upon hearing the news, with a statement from his office saying that he “was unaware of such a move and was burning with anger.”

Smotrich reportedly called an emergency party meeting to discuss both the security aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA), as well as compromise talks at President Isaac Herzog’s Residence.

The statement from the finance minister's office continued: “The assessment of those around Smotrich is that the transfer of arms to the PA and the [compromise] steps at the President’s Residence were a payment to Benny Gantz to establish a left-wing government with him that would seek to revive the Oslo Accords.”

Smotrich later released a video statement saying he would agree to a compromise, including concessions, as long as there was no “capitulation and surrender” to “those who lost the elections.”

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir called on Netanyahu to repudiate the reports, saying there would be “consequences.”

“Mr. Prime Minister, if you don’t state in your own voice that the reports about the transfer of arms to the terrorists of the Palestinian Authority are false, there will be consequences,” he warned.

“If you intend to try and build an Oslo II government, please update your ministers and the public so that we can act accordingly.”

On Wednesday morning, Ben Gvir demanded a list of “everything that has been transferred to the Palestinian Authority over the past year.”

The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, the army commander of Judea and Samaria, responded, “This is a decision from January 2022.”

Netanyahu, himself, responded to the controversy by releasing a video statement, where it called the situation “fake news.”

“There is no limit to the fake news,” Netanyahu stated.

“Here are the facts. Since this government was created, it has not transferred any weapons, not even one.”

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant posted to X, formerly Twitter, denying the approval of weapons transfer to the PA.

“Since I assumed the position of minister of defense, I have neither approved nor has there been a transfer of weapons or deadly military equipment to the Palestinian Authority. Any attempt to present things in a different way is a blatant lie,” Gallant confirmed.

The U.S. State Department also appeared to contradict the claim of weapons transfer in a statement.

“As a general matter, we do not comment on specific transfers. That said, we can say that U.S. security assistance to the Palestinian Authority does not include provision of weapons or ammunition to the PA security forces.”

On Wednesday evening, Ben Gvir announced that his Jewish Power party would boycott voting until the government implements his plan to limit visitation rights for Palestinian security prisoners.

Netanyahu and Ben Gvir have clashed over the issue in the past few days, with Netanyahu declaring on Tuesday that no changes would be made to current procedures.

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

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