Israeli Netanyahu cautious over hostage deal amid coalition splits By Reuters

©Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the weekly cabinet meeting at the Ministry of Defense in Tel Aviv, Israel, January 7, 2024. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun/Pool/File Photo

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that Israel was not ready to accept an all-costs deal to release hostages held by Hamas because of rifts in his coalition over a U.S. push for more aid in Gaza.

The comments came during the latest episode of a rumbling coalition clash between religious nationalist parties opposed to any concessions to the Palestinians and a centrist group that includes former army generals.

“Efforts to free the hostages continue at all times,” Netanyahu said in comments released to the media ahead of the cabinet meeting. “As I also underlined in the Security Cabinet, we will not accept every deal, and not at any price.”

He also appears to have issued a rebuke to far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who wants the return of Jewish settlers to Gaza and who has criticized US President Joe Biden, Israel’s staunchest ally, for doing pressure to deliver humanitarian aid to the enclave. .

“Instead of giving us his full support, Biden is busy providing humanitarian aid and fuel [to Gaza]that goes to Hamas,” Ben-Gvir said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, during which he openly supported Donald Trump, Biden’s likely rival in the US presidential elections in November.

“If Trump were in power, the conduct of the United States would be completely different,” he said.

Without directly naming Ben-Gvir, Netanyahu, who has had a sometimes tense relationship with Biden, rejected the comment, which came as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken headed to the region.

“I do not need any assistance to manage our relations with the United States and the international community, while firmly defending our national interests,” he said at Sunday’s Cabinet meeting.

In response to Ben-Gvir’s interview, former opposition politician Benny Gantz, who joined the emergency unity government last year, tweeted a message of thanks to Biden, saying: “The people of Israel will forever remember how you stood up for Israel’s right in one of our most difficult hours.”

The clash highlighted the tense political climate in Israel four months after a devastating attack by Hamas gunmen in October, in which around 1,200 people were killed, according to Israeli counts, and around 240 dragged to Gaza as hostages.

In response, Israel razed large swathes of Gaza in a relentless campaign that has killed more than 27,000 people, according to Palestinian health authorities, and forced most of the 2.3 million inhabitants to flee their homes.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the United States would continue to try to bring more aid to Gaza, which is facing a major humanitarian crisis.

“And that means putting pressure on Israel on issues related to the humanitarian assistance that we helped unlock and get into the Gaza Strip and there needs to be a lot more of it,” he told CBS television’s “Face the Nation.”

(This story has been refiled to add Benny Gantz’s full name to paragraph 9)

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *