The New Arab / May 9, 2023
Israel’s extreme-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and his political bloc said they were ending their boycott of the government after airstrikes on Gaza killed 13 people, including three senior Islamic Jihad (PIJ) members.
At least seven children were among those killed in Tuesday’s air raid.
“Following the adoption of our position and a transition from containment to attack and targeted assassinations of Islamic Jihad leaders, we will return to vote with the government,” the Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) party, which Ben-Gvir leads, said.
The extremist party had been boycotting cabinet meetings and not supporting government bills in the Knesset after what it said was a “weak” response by Israel to rocket fire from Gaza last week.
The PIJ launched rockets into Israel after Khader Adnan, an activist affiliated with the group, died in Israeli custody after spending more than 80 days on hunger strike.
Israel responded with artillery strikes and killed one person.
Ben-Gvir had reportedly set conditions for returning to cabinet meetings. These included pushing for military escalation in the occupied West Bank against Palestinian resistance fighters and tightening restrictions on Palestinian prisoners in Israeli custody.
He also wanted a bigger say in security-related matters, and to pass legislation on a proposed judicial overhaul plan, which has sparked great opposition in Israel and seen hundreds of thousands take to the streets in protest.
However, Israeli media said that Ben-Gvir did not intend on withdrawing from the coalition government for fear that it would collapse. Recent opinion polls have indicated a significant decline in his and his party’s popularity.
Ben-Gvir is notorious for his inflammatory anti-Palestinian rhetoric. He has previously advocated the expulsion of “disloyal” Palestinian citizens of Israel, called for the expansion of illegal West Bank settlements, and stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem