Israeli gov't divided by US ceasefire proposal

<p><em>(TPS photo)</em></p>

(TPS photo)

JERUSALEM – The Israeli government is divided over a US proposal for a ceasefire, with leaders of the Orthodox religious parties voicing support on Tuesday while far-right leaders threaten to quit the coalition.

“I told the representatives of the kidnapped families today that our position is that there is nothing greater than the value of life and the mitzvah [religious imperative] of ransoming captives, because there is a real and tangible danger to their lives,” United Torah Judaism chairman and Housing Minister Yitzhak Goldknopf said on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“Therefore, we will support any proposal that will lead to the release of the abductees,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Shas party also threw its support behind the proposal.

“At the faction meeting that took place yesterday, the Israeli proposal for the abductees deal was discussed. In the end, the faction decided to fully support the Israeli proposal, which includes far-reaching measures for the return of the hostages and the observance of the mitzvah of redeeming captives,” the party said in a statement.

“Shas supports the proposal and backs the prime minister and the war cabinet in facing off all pressure, reaching a deal, and saving the lives of many of our brothers and sisters who are in distress and captivity.”

The announcements were at odds with far-right leaders who have vowed to quit the government if it accepts President Joe Biden’s proposal.

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who heads the Religious Zionism party, said on Saturday night, “I will not be part of a government that agrees to the proposed outline and ends the war without destroying Hamas and bringing back all the hostages.”

However, Hebrew media reports indicated Smotrich is consulting with rabbis associated with Religious Zionism about his future in the coalition and the details of the White House proposal.

National Security Minister and leader of the Otzma Yehudit party Itamar Ben-Gvir said on Saturday night that he will “dismantle the government” if it accepts the US proposal.

President Joe Biden on Friday unveiled a three-phase plan to end the war featuring the release of Israeli hostages and imprisoned Palestinian terrorists, the return of Palestinians to their Gaza communities, and the expansion of humanitarian aid deliveries. The proposal, however, does not remove Hamas from Gaza, nor does it address the threat of Hezbollah and the thousands of Israelis forced to evacuate communities in northern Israel.

At least 1,200 people were killed, and 252 Israelis and foreigners were taken hostage in Hamas’s attacks on Israeli communities near the Gaza border on October 7. Of the 120 remaining hostages, more than 30 are believed dead. (TPS)