Israel government in crisis as Netanyahu accuses Ben-Gvir of leaking state secrets

Israel government in crisis as Netanyahu accuses Ben-Gvir of leaking state secrets
The Israeli government is in crisis again, as PM Benjamin Netanyahu and far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir lock horns again.
3 min read
20 June, 2024
Netanyahu has been under fire for his handling of the war on Gaza [Getty]

Israel's right-wing government appears on the edge of collapse, after coalition partners threatened to withdraw from government unless Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives in to their demands.

A key point of contention has been far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir's insistence on joining the now disbanded war cabinet, which was overseeing Israel's brutal assault on Israel, while Netanyahu accuses the Jewish Power head of leaking state secrets.

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"Prime Minister Netanyahu told Minister Ben-Gvir one simple thing: 'Whoever wants to be a partner in a limited security consultation team must prove that he is not leaking state secrets or private conversations'," Likud said in a statement.

Ben-Gvir, who has called for Palestinian women and children approaching the Gaza border to be shot, has been repeatedly accused of leaking closed-door cabinet conversations, leading to an acrimonious relationship between him and the prime minister.

After the latest accusations by Likud, Jewish Power said they would back a bill forcing ministers to take polygraphs so long as it also "applies to those with pacemakers", with Netanyahu recently having one fitted, The Times of Israel reported.

The fracas comes after Netanyahu pressed Ben-Gvir to back the so-called 'Rabbi Law', which ultra-Orthodox partner Shas have made its passing a condition for staying in the Likud-led coalition. 

The law would shift decision-making for the appointment of rabbis from local councils to the Shas-led ministry of religious affairs, which critics say will embed clientelism in the process for the benefit of the ultra-Orthodox party.

When Netanyahu shelved the bill from a vote on Wednesday, due to the premier being unable to get enough backers, even from within his own Likud Party, Shas leader Arye Dery called the prime minister and threatened to quit the coalition, according to reports.

This would likely lead to the collapse of the government and there are questions about whether Netanyahu could win another election if he does not retain the support of ultra-Orthodox parties such as Shas and Jewish Power.

The premier is also facing criticism for his handling of the assault on Gaza, where over 37,431 people have been killed with no signs of Israel fulfilling its aims as the war approaches its ninth month.

The Israeli army’s chief spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, made a rare public criticism of Netanyahu's stated ambition to defeat Hamas.

"This business of destroying Hamas, making Hamas disappear - it's simply throwing sand in the eyes of the public," the military spokesperson told Channel 13.

"Hamas is an idea, Hamas is a party. It's rooted in the hearts of the people, whoever thinks we can eliminate Hamas is wrong."

Netanyhu's office stressed that destroying Hamas is one of the military's war goals and is committed to doing so.