Israel far-right minister Smotrich's in bid to secure US support for Rafah attack

Israel far-right minister Smotrich's in bid to secure US support for Rafah attack
Far-right Israeli MK Smotrich signalled he will seek a cabinet vote on securing US backing for an assault on Rafah.
2 min read
11 April, 2024
MK Bezalel Smotrich will propose a vote on securing US support for invading Rafah and forbidding Gazans from returning to north Gaza [Getty]

Israel's Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich signalled that he would introduce two proposals during a cabinet meeting on Wednesday - one to guarantee US support for an attack on Rafah and the other banning the return of displaced Palestinians to their homes in northern Gaza Strip.

The cabinet meeting was held to discuss developments in the war and a proposed ceasefire and hostage-exchange deal, Israeli media reported on Tuesday, but was not expected to result in any concrete decisions.

Cabinet members were also expected to receive security briefings and other updates from Mossad chief David Barnea, and Ronen Bar, the head of Israel's Shin Bet security agency, regarding the latest truce proposal put forward by Washington, in addition to Smotrich's proposals.

The meeting came in the wake of pressure exerted by far-right ministers, led by Smotrich and Israeli Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir, after most Israeli forces were withdrawn from southern Gaza Strip.

This prompted demands from the two ministers to be included in decision-making, as they continue to push for an invasion of Rafah, the last major city in Gaza not subject to a ground assault by Israel.

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Smotrich's first proposal was to call for a pledge from Washington to support Israel's return to fighting after the end of a six-week truce, and back Israel's planned military operation in Rafah, where 1.4 million Palestinians who have fled their homes elsewhere in Gaza have found refuge.

His second proposal concerns a ceasefire proposal under discussion in Cairo, where he will demand that Palestinians will not be allowed to move back to or travel to northern Gaza, which he claims would allow Hamas to reorganise its ranks, as part of the agreement.

On Monday, Smotrich, who heads Israel's extreme-right Religious Zionism party, invited all the Knesset members of his party to "emergency consultations due to reports that progress is being made in the ongoing negotiations in Cairo to reach a deal, in light of the withdrawal of Israel forces from Gaza".

This article is based on an article which appeared in our Arabic edition by Naif Zidane on 9 April 2024. To read the original article click here.