Ben Gvir challenges Netanyahu to fire him if he doesn’t want a right-wing government

Jeremy Sharon is The Times of Israel’s legal affairs and settlements reporter

Minister of National Security Itamar Ben Gvir gives a press statement in the southern Israeli city of Sderot, May 3, 2023. (Flash90)
Minister of National Security Itamar Ben Gvir gives a press statement in the southern Israeli city of Sderot, May 3, 2023. (Flash90)

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, the leader of the far-right Otzma Yehudit party, vows his party will not vote in Knesset with the government until Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu adopts more right-wing policies, and challenges him to fire him.

Ben Gvir makes his comments after his party slammed the government’s “feeble”  response to the rocket attacks from Gaza on Tuesday, but also points to the failure to pass judicial reforms and to demolish the illegal Palestinian Bedouin encampment Khan al-Ahmar.

“If you don’t want Otzma Yehudit in the government you are welcome to fire us, if you don’t want a real right-wing government you are welcome to send us home,” Ben Gvir tells Netanyahu from a private home in Sderot where his party ministers and MKs are spending the day.

“I am giving notice here that we, Otzma Yehudit, will not be present for votes in the Knesset until the prime minister understands and internalizes that the goal of this government is to be a real right-wing government,” the ultranationalist minister continues.

Ben Gvir also insists that he be included in security deliberations such as those regarding the response to the Gaza rocket fire.

“I am saying as explicitly as possible — if he wants us in the government he needs to invite us to these deliberations and not as has been in the last four months when the decisions have already been made,” says Ben Gvir.

“If we are partners then we need to be invited and more importantly have influence. If the PM wants that we will be happy, if not we will not come to votes.”
He does not stipulate, however, precisely what terms are needed in order for his party to resume voting in the Knesset.

Netanyahu’s Likud party earlier said that if Ben Gvir was unhappy, he was welcome to leave the government.

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