Israeli Ministers Express Opposition to Ceasefire Proposal

Two far-right Israeli ministers, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, have threatened to resign from their positions and potentially collapse the governing coalition if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agrees to a Gaza ceasefire proposal put forth by US President Joe Biden. While the proposed plan outlined by Biden entails a phased approach including a six-week ceasefire, withdrawal of IDF from populated areas in Gaza, release of hostages, cessation of hostilities, and reconstruction of Gaza, these ministers remain steadfast in their stance against any deal that does not entail the destruction of Hamas and the return of all hostages. This move has sparked divisions within the Israeli government with opposition leader Yair Lapid offering support to Netanyahu if he backs the ceasefire plan. On the ground, tensions continue to rise as thousands of protesters demand acceptance of the proposed plan and Netanyahu’s resignation in Tel Aviv, leading to clashes with law enforcement and detentions of demonstrators. Amid the domestic turmoil, international mediators from Egypt, Qatar, and the US are pushing for both parties to finalize the agreement, emphasizing the need for a permanent ceasefire and release of hostages. UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has also thrown his weight behind the plan, vowing additional aid for Gaza if Hamas agrees to the terms. The conflict, which has claimed over 36,000 lives in Gaza since its inception on October 7, 2023, remains a critical issue with Netanyahu’s office reiterating the need to meet their conditions before a ceasefire is considered.