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Israel Minister accuses US of ‘driving a wedge’ among Israelis

March 5, 2024 at 1:34 pm

Bezalel Smotrich, Israels finance minister, speaks during a news conference to present a cost of living plan in Jerusalem, Israel, on Wednesday, 11 January 2023 [Kobi Wolf/Bloomberg via Getty Images]

Israeli Finance Minister, Bezalel Smotrich, accused the US, on Monday, of seeking to “drive a wedge” among Israelis, Anadolu Agency reported.

The accusation came amid divisions over a visit by War Cabinet Minister, Benny Gantz, to Washington for talks with top US officials, including Vice-President, Kamala Harris.

“The US government is looking for places to drive a wedge between Israelis in order to advance its plans, with the help of Gantz,” Smotrich said.

“In this way, Gantz is working to advance their [US] plans to establish a Palestinian State,” he added.

Smotrich has described Gantz as the “weak link”, adding that he had hosted Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas in his home, and that he “supports the Palestinian State”.

Smotrich, the leader of the extremist Religious Zionism Party, urged Gantz to clearly declare his commitment to a decision by the Israeli government and the Knesset to reject a Palestinian State.

Last month, the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) voted in support of a government decision to reject the unilateral recognition of a Palestinian State.

According to the Israeli public broadcaster, KAN, Netanyahu opposed Gantz’s visit to the US and asked the Israeli ambassador in Washington not to deal with the trip as an official one.

Gantz’s visit comes amid American reports suggesting that the US administration is running out of patience with “Netanyahu’s behaviour in the war and allegations that he is being constrained by his two partners in the government (National Security Minister), Itamar Ben Gvir and Smotrich”, according to the Hebrew newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth.

Israel continued its deadly offensive on the Gaza Strip, which has killed at least 30,534 people and injured 71,920 others since a 7 October Hamas attack.

The Israeli war has pushed 85 per cent of Gaza’s population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water and medicine, while 60 per cent of the enclave’s infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

In late 2023, South Africa filed a case before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), accusing Israel of failing to uphold its obligations under the 1948 Genocide Convention.

An interim ruling in January ordered Tel Aviv to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

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