Netanyahu ‘welcome to fire us’: Tension mounts between Likud, Ben-Gvir over ‘weak response’ to terror

Likud suggests Ben-Gvir’s Otzma Yehudit can bolt the government, as party vows not to support coalition in Knesset votes after ceasefire announced.

By World Israel News Staff

Tensions ran high in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition Wednesday after one of his right-wing allies lambasted the government over what it deemed a “weak response” to terrorist rocket attacks against southern Israel.

The ruling Likud party slammed the rightist Otzma Yehudit faction Wednesday afternoon after its chairman, National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, announced that the party would boycott votes in the Knesset, in protest of what he called the “weak response” to rocket attacks overnight.

“Following the weak response in Gaza tonight, the Otzma Yehudit faction decided not to attend the Knesset votes today and will hold a special faction meeting in the city of Sderot,” Ben-Gvir said.

Hours later, the Likud issued a statement condemning the boycott and inviting Otzma Yehudit to bolt the government if dissatisfied with Netanyahu’s leadership.

“The Prime Minister, Defense Minister, the IDF, and security officials are the ones who manage the sensitive and complicated security matters the State of Israel is confronted with. It is the Prime Minister who decides who the relevant parties are for hearings. If that is not acceptable to Minister Ben-Gvir, he does not have to remain in the government,” the Likud stated.

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Shortly afterwards, however, Ben-Gvir fired back, telling reporters at a press conference that Netanyahu had rescinded his policies and abandoned the government’s right-wing principles.

“I cancelled the terrorists’ phones in prison, but Netanyahu gave them back. This is not a fully right-wing government,” he said.

The national security minister responded directly to the Likud’s veiled threat, suggesting Netanyahu fire him and his fellow party members from the government if the prime minister is unsatisfied with the current arrangement.

“Mr. Prime Minister, if you don’t want Otzma Yehudit in your government, you are welcome to fire us. If you don’t want a fully right-wing government, you are welcome to send us home.

“Right now we won’t come for Knesset votes. We won’t show up for any Knesset votes until the prime minister understands that the purpose of this government is to be a fully right-wing government, and that we are an indispensable part of [security] hearings and the fulfillment of security policies of the Israeli government.”

Islamic Jihad terrorists operating out of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip fired 104 rockets and a number of mortar shells towards Israel from Tuesday afternoon to early Wednesday morning, claiming the attacks were in retaliation for the death of Sheikh Khader Adnan in an Israeli prison. Adnan, a senior figure in the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group, had refused to eat for 86 days when he was found in his prison cell at the Nitzan Prison.

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Opposition lawmakers, including Opposition Leader Yair Lapid ,expressed support for the government following the attacks, despite intense rhetoric against the Coalition recently amid the debate over the judicial overhaul.

“The opposition will support the government in any military action that will bring peace and security to the residents of the south,” Lapid wrote on Tuesday evening.