Hawkish faction within Jewish Home threatens to quit government after attack

A far-right faction threatens to quit Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition and has called a meeting to decide on its demands for steps against Palestinians following a wave of deadly terror attacks in the West Bank.

“Following the severe terror attacks, we decided to … reexamine our continued membership in the government and coalition,” Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel, who leads the hardline National Union faction within the religious right-wing Jewish Home coalition party, writes on Twitter.

The meeting will take place this evening and could see Ariel and MK Bezalel Smotrich leave the coalition, which currently has a scant 61-59 majority in the Knesset — a move that would topple the government.

The two MKs intend to issue an ultimatum to Netanyahu, conditioning their coalition membership on the premier closing Route 60 — the main north-south West Bank artery — to Palestinian vehicles.

“I have asked the prime minister to order immediate action including reinstating checkpoints all over Judea and Samaria, the immediate demolition of houses and deportation of terrorists within Judea and Samaria,” Ariel writes, using the biblical name for the West Bank.

He also demands that the security cabinet convene by Sunday.

Smotrich says the government had “no right to exist” if routes in the West Bank aren’t closed to Palestinians, and if steps aren’t taken to legalize settlements.

He also calls on settlers to block Route 60 to Palestinians at 5 p.m. on Thursday. “If there are terror attacks — there won’t be Arabs on the roads. Our lives come before their welfare.”

— with Michael Bachner

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