Netanyahu cancels Gaza 'day after' talks amid far-right coalition threats

Netanyahu cancels Gaza 'day after' talks amid far-right coalition threats
Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly came under pressure from far-right coalition partners who want to continue the Gaza war until Hamas is defeated.
2 min read
29 December, 2023
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs a cabinet meeting at the Kirya military base [Getty]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday cancelled war cabinet discussions on plans for post-war Gaza, Israeli media reported.

According to Israel's Kan public broadcaster and Channel 12,  Netanyahu had faced “significant pressure” by his coalition partners to cancel the talks, including from two far-right ministers.

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The far-right Religious Zionist Party’s Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and ultranationalist Jewish Power Party’s Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir have openly opposed the discussion, arguing "the council's lack of jurisdiction", according to Israeli news outlet Yedioth Ahronoth

Smotrich and Ben-Gvir, who are not members of the war cabinet, have threatened to dismantle the government and withdraw from their positions if the war ends before defeating Hamas and freeing the Israeli hostages. 

This comes after there have been similar clashes over whether to involve the Palestinian Authority (PA) in governing Gaza. 

Despite the US’s proposal for the PA to take charge of Gaza and unify the administrations of the enclave and the West Bank, Netanyahu has refused the suggestion and indicated that Israel would occupy Gaza instead. 

The US has continued efforts to push for postwar plans, as its national security advisor Jake Sullivan met with PA leader Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, reportedly urging the 88-year-old Palestinian leader to "bring new blood" into the PA's leadership and hand over some of his powers to the office of the First Minister.  

Sullivan also met with Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer on Tuesday to discuss shifting "to a different phase" of the war, a White House official told French news agency AFP

The meeting provided an opportunity to talk about steps to improve the humanitarian situation in war-torn Gaza and minimise harm to civilians, according to the unnamed official. 

It was also meant as a chance to speak on "the transition to a different phase of the war to maximize focus on high-value Hamas targets," the official said, referring to the Palestinian group. 

Gaza's health ministry said on Friday that 21,507 Palestinians have been killed and 55,915 wounded in Israeli strikes on Gaza since 7 October. 

In the past 24 hours, 187 Palestinians were killed, the ministry added.