West Bank military operation among others demands of Ben-Gvir to end govt feud
Israeli Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir has expressed willingness to end the political feud with the prime minister only if he is given the green light to launch a military operation in the occupied West Bank.
Ben-Gvir and his Jewish National Front party have refused to support bills proposed by the government in the Israeli legislator, the Knesset, in protest over what they say was the government’s "weak response" to rocket fire from Gaza last week.
The rocket fire came in response to the death of Palestinian prisoner and hunger striker Khader Adnan in an Israeli prison. At least one person was killed in Gaza after Israel shot back with artillery fire.
Setting conditions to end the feud, Ben-Gvir - notorious for his anti-Palestinian rhetoric and radical ideas - wants to launch a large-scale military campaign against Palestinian resistance fighters in the West Bank, and introduce stricter measures on Palestinians in Israeli detention, the Kan broadcaster reported Sunday evening.
He also wants to pass legislation related to judicial reforms, Kan said, which have rocked the Israeli political scene in recent months and seen hundreds of thousands take to the streets in protest.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly tried to communicate with Ben-Gvir through mediators, but the national security minister has refused, saying he was "concerned with actions, not words."
Ben-Gvir is also demanding to be a partner in the government’s decision-making process related to security issues, another point of contention between him and Netanyahu.
Israel’s Channel 13 said the minister did not however intend on withdrawing from the coalition government, thus forcing its collapse, as recent opinion polls indicated a significant decline in his and his party’s popularity.
Quoting his close associates, Channel 13 said Netanyahu refused Ben-Gvir’s demands regarding the West Bank operations without the support of Israel’s military and security service leaders.
In an attempt to appease Ben-Gvir and ease tensions, Netanyahu could invite him to attend consultations he is holding with army commanders in the presence of Defence Minister Yoav Gallant.
Earlier this month, the Israeli government approved the establishment of a new law enforcement body known as the "National Guard."
Ben-Gvir is expected to establish a committee that outlines how the unit will operate within the next couple of months.
Palestinians have expressed deep concern that the unit will act as another tool for Israel to persecute them further.
Near-daily raids in the West Bank by Israeli forces and attacks by Israeli settlers have killed over 100 Palestinians since the start of this year. Last year was the deadliest for Palestinians since at least 2005, the United Nations said.
But Israel however grown increasingly concerned by resistance groups, such as the Lions' Den and Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, who have in turn claimed responsibility for a number of retaliatory attacks against Israelis.