Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich reiterates his call to expand the narrow war cabinet to include representatives from each coalition party, saying that politicians who rallied against appeasing Hamas and the Palestinian Authority should be part of the wartime decision-making process.
Smotrich accuses the current three-member war cabinet, featuring centrist and right-wing politicians, of holding onto an appeasement-focused security conception “that, to a large extent, brought us to the situation we find ourselves in today,” in remarks at the outset of his Religious Zionism faction’s Knesset meeting.
The far-right party head argues that the war cabinet must hear “opinions that up to this point have not been heard,” including those of politicians “who have cried out for years against this conception, who demanded the elimination of Hamas, including the conquering of the Gaza Strip, in order to remove its threat to the State of Israel.”
Before joining politics, Smotrich was arrested for violent activism against the government’s 2005 unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip, which including uprooting all Jewish settlement in the enclave.
When asked by reporters if he would support renewed Jewish settlement in Gaza, Smotrich says that “it’s not the time to deal with this,” and that “we’ll argue about it [later].”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and emergency government party Minister Benny Gantz have been silent on Smotrich’s request, but if the far-right minister were to be added to the top-level cabinet, Smotrich says his party opposes fuel transfers into Gaza.
“The decision to let fuel flow into the Gaza Strip is a big mistake,” he says.
In Smotrich’s view, squeezing Gaza’s state and civilian infrastructure will lead to a speedier resolution of the war.
“I think that the way to win the war is to subdue the Hamas state in Gaza, and in order to do that we have to collapse the state system in Gaza, and not allow anything that can help Hamas continue to fight and harm our soldiers and civilians,” Smotrich says