Smotrich skips cabinet meeting to huddle with party instead

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"

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convenes his cabinet for a weekly meeting that had been delayed by the end of the Passover holiday. Not in attendance is Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who is instead holding a faction meeting of his far-right Religious Zionism party, amid ongoing political disagreement within the government over a proposed hostage deal with Hamas.

Smotrich is slated to issue a statement to the media following the meeting, which comes on the heels of a private powwow between Netanyahu and National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir focused on the deal and the expected IDF ground operation in Rafah.

Both Ben Gvir and Smotrich have expressed opposition to a deal scaling back or temporarily halting the fighting, saying it would undermine the government’s right to exist and lead to its dissolution.

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