Ben Gvir says Gantz’s departure an opportunity to ‘stop the humanitarian policy’ in Gaza

Sam Sokol is the Times of Israel's political correspondent. He was previously a reporter for the Jerusalem Post, Jewish Telegraphic Agency and Haaretz. He is the author of "Putin’s Hybrid War and the Jews"

Otzma Yehudit party leader National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir leads a faction meeting at the Knesset, in Jerusalem, on June 3, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
Otzma Yehudit party leader National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir leads a faction meeting at the Knesset, in Jerusalem, on June 3, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir calls last night’s departure from the coalition by National Unity chief Benny Gantz “a very big opportunity,” arguing that in recent months the former war cabinet minister’s centrist party had “put a spoke in the wheels of the war machine.”

Gantz, alongside Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was one of three voting members of the decision-making war cabinet.

Speaking to reporters ahead of his far-right Otzma Yehudit party’s weekly faction meeting in the Knesset, Ben Gvir says that he believes “the solution is really that we will enter this [war] cabinet and be able to have even more influence.”

“The people of Israel want victory in the south, the people of Israel want victory in the north, the people of Israel want to stop the fuel and humanitarian policy, most of which ultimately goes to Hamas. This is not how a country that wants to win behaves,” Ben Gvir continues.

Asked about his demands for a seat in the war cabinet, Ben Gvir says with a smirk that he “does not speak to the prime minister with threats, but I’m guessing that the prime minister will understand my words.”

“I am demanding it all the time,” he adds.

When National Unity first joined the government, Ben Gvir demanded a representative of his party be part of the newly formed war cabinet. He was denied his request.

Ahead of Gantz’s resignation yesterday, Ben Gvir stated that he would demand increased say over government decisions, including in the war cabinet.

When asked about an incident yesterday in which he dismissed the relative of a hostage held in Gaza seeking answers by calling him a “leftist,” Ben Gvir declines to comment on the details of that incident, saying that while he appreciates the hostages’ families, “there cannot be a situation where time and again, in the name of the families, things are said which lead to danger to the State of Israel.”

“If we don’t stop the fuel [to Gaza], that endangers the State of Israel,” he says.

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