Smotrich said refusing to meet PM on cost of living crisis in bid to pressure him on major Rafah op

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"

File - Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich in Jerusalem, April 21, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
File - Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich in Jerusalem, April 21, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

Over the last several days, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich repeatedly declined to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss ways to lower the cost of living, in an attempt to pressure the government to take military action in Rafah, according to the Ynet news site.

Citing anonymous political sources with knowledge of the matter, Ynet quotes Smotrich as saying that “first we need to enter Rafah and then take care of fuel prices.”

Following counterpressure from Netanyahu’s office, the far-right minister has finally agreed to meet the prime minister tomorrow to discuss the issue, Ynet reports, citing a source in the PMO.

“The finance minister is busy 24 hours a day managing the economy,” Smotrich’s office tells Ynet, explaining that the “critical” stage of the war in which Israel finds itself required recent discussions between him and Netanyahu to focus on the minister’s demand “to continue the war and enter Rafah immediately.”

“Victory is an existential need, but also an economic need. Because without victory, there will be no security, and without security there will be no economy,” the statement adds.

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