Smotrich says he’ll oppose ‘disastrous’ hostage deal being discussed in Cairo

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"

Finance Minister and Head of the Religious Zionism party Bezalel Smotrich leads a faction meeting at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, April 30, 2024. (Oren Ben Hakoon/Flash90)
Finance Minister and Head of the Religious Zionism party Bezalel Smotrich leads a faction meeting at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, April 30, 2024. (Oren Ben Hakoon/Flash90)

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich declares that he will oppose the hostage deal currently being negotiated in Egypt, stating that it would be “disastrous” for Israel.

Speaking with the press following a meeting of his Religious Zionism faction in the Knesset, the far-right cabinet member says that while he would have received kudos for coming out in favor of a deal, he believes that such a course of action would endanger Israeli civilians and is “ready to pay the political price” to prevent an “existential danger” to the State of Israel — even if it means going to the opposition.

Smotrich says that while his “heart is torn” by the suffering of the hostages and their families, his “head is thinking at the same time about the future of nine million Israeli citizens” and how they will be affected by a return of Hamas to northern Gaza and the release of terrorists with blood on their hands.

“In the end, my responsibility is to the public, to my conscience and to the truth. And the head and the truth say that such a deal must be opposed because its results will be disastrous,” he says.

“We have reached a crossroads where the State of Israel has to choose between decisive victory and defeat in war and humiliation,” he argues. “Acceptance of the deal that is on the table means unequivocally waving a white flag and granting victory to Hamas.”

If the current proposal is accepted, Hamas will be “alive, kicking, strengthening and preparing for the next terrible massacre,” he asserts, accusing the war cabinet of agreeing to “strategic concessions that endanger the State of Israel.”

“A government that submits to international pressure, stops the war in the middle, avoids immediate entry into Rafah and returns to Egyptian mediation proposals that leave Hamas existing in any configuration will instantly lose its right to exist,” he adds.

He urges Netanyahu to “finally give the command: ‘Rafah now.'”

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