Ben-Gvir vs. Netanyahu: Right-wing party halts cooperation with gov’t coalition

Netanyahu’s refusal to reduce family visits for incarcerated terrorists appears to be the final straw for Otzma Yehudit Chair and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir.

By World Israel News Staff

On the heels of escalating tensions between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, the latter’s Otzma Yehudit party announced that it would no longer support legislation pushed by the coalition.

That announcement comes the day before the Knesset goes into a month-long recess for the Jewish holidays, so the effect of that decision will only be felt once lawmakers return to Jerusalem on October 15.

Otzma Yehudit, whose party platform is centered upon policies that are tough on terror, has repeatedly expressed its frustration with Netanyahu and the Likud party, whom they blame for thwarting their plans to clamp down on terrorists.

Last week, Ben-Gvir announced that he would worsen the conditions for incarcerated terrorists, including reducing family visitation from a monthly to a bimonthly basis.

That announcement was quickly rebuffed by Netanhyahu, who said that Ben-Gvir did not have the authority to declare such a policy and that family visitation schedules would remain the same.

Netanyahu claimed that the Shin Bet and other intelligence agencies feared that the policy change could spark backlash and retaliatory terror attacks.

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This appeared to be the final straw for Ben-Gvir, who said on Wednesday that Otzma Yehudit had “made an uncompromising demand to significantly reform the conditions of terrorists in prison.”

He added that “this is in accordance with the role and authority of the National Security Minister. It is a fundamental demand by Otzma Yehudit.”

At a pre-Rosh HaShana toast, Ben-Gvir informed Netanyahu that his party would no longer support coalition legislation until their demands are met, Hebrew-language media reported.

Otzma Yehudit holds six seats in the Knesset, meaning that should the party refuse to vote alongside the 64-MK coalition, the Netanyahu-led government will be unable to pass legislation requiring a Knesset majority of 60 or more votes.