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Gantz threatens to topple Israel’s gov’t if hostage deal blocked

April 29, 2024 at 10:28 am

Chairman of Israel’s National Unity Party Benny Gantz [Muhammed Selim Korkutata/Anadolu Agency]

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government “will not have the right to continue to exist” if it blocks a proposed prisoner swap deal with Hamas, War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz said yesterday according to Anadolu.

“Entering Rafah is important in the long struggle against Hamas. The return of our abductees, abandoned by the 7.10 government, is urgent and of far greater importance,” he said on X.

“If a responsible outline is reached for the return of the abductees with the backing of the entire security system, which does not involve the end of the war, and the ministers who led the government on 7.10 prevent it – the government will not have the right to continue to exist and lead the campaign,” he continued.

Despite international warnings that a military campaign on Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah would have a devastating effect on Palestinians as over 1.5 million civilians have taken refuge in the area, Israel has insisted an offensive is necessary and will happen.

Gantz, the leader of the centrist National Unity Party, joined Netanyahu’s emergency government following 7 October 2023.

READ: Israel opposition accuses Netanyahu of favouring his career over return of hostages

Far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich has also threatened to undermine Netanyahu’s coalition government if he accepts an Egyptian proposal for a Gaza ceasefire.

While far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir threatened on Saturday to withdraw from Netanyahu’s government “if Rafah is not invaded.”

However, opposition leader Yair Lapid said Saturday that he would intervene and save the government if far-right politicians, such as Smotrich, sought to leave it over the deal.

An Egyptian intelligence delegation held talks with Israeli officials on Friday to discuss a proposed ceasefire deal in the Gaza Strip.

The new proposal includes Israel’s willingness to discuss the “restoration of sustainable calm” in Gaza after an initial release of hostages on humanitarian grounds, two Israeli officials told the Axios news website.

A Palestinian source told Anadolu that Hamas will deliver its response to the proposed Gaza ceasefire deal today.

More than 34,400 Palestinians have since been killed and tens of thousands injured in a deadly Israeli onslaught on the Gaza Strip since 7 October. Israel stands accused of genocide before the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

READ: Israel soldiers refuse commands to prepare for Rafah operation