Rightist Coalition Partners Slam Netanyahu Over Gaza Truce Deal

Habayit Hayehudi, Yisrael Beiteinu, as well as Likud members, criticize talks with Hamas, failure to destroy it.

Michal Fattal

Coalition partners Habayit Hayehudi and Yisrael Beiteinu, as well as figures from Netanyahu’s own Likud party, lost no time on Wednesday in blasting the Egyptian-brokered cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. They castigated the “feebleness” of the war in Gaza and its meager achievements.

Coalition partners Yesh Atid and Hatnuah, on the other hand, intend to push Netanyahu to advance a peace agreement with the Palestinians. Minister Jacob Perry of Yesh Atid and the party’s faction chief MK Ofer Shelah warned Wednsday their party would quit the coalition if the prime minister fails to move toward a two-state solution.

Likud Central Committee chairman MK Danny Danon said Wednesday the committee would convene in Ashkelon in two weeks to discuss Netanyahu’s performance during the fighting with Gaza.

“Operation Protective Shield opened with huge support and ended with the people of Israel confused and bewildered,” said Danon, one of the prime minister’s most vociferous opponents.

He slammed Netanyahu’s approval of the truce with Hamas without a cabinet debate. “Such a decision must be made not with a round of telephone calls or in the security cabinet, but with a full cabinet session,” he said.

“Despite the heavy price, we haven’t defeated Hamas,” Danon stressed. “Ultimately we’re back to the understandings [obtained after] Pillar of Defense. We needed a decisive victory to convey to the entire Middle East, including Hezbollah, ISIS and Iran, that you don’t mess with Israel. I’m afraid we haven’t done well enough in this respect.”

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) wrote on his Facebook page that his party objects to the cease-fire, under whose auspices “Hamas can continue to grow stronger and will conduct another war against Israel at its convenience.”

Israel must not “reach an arrangement with Hamas and as long as there’s Hamas, no arrangement is possible,” Lieberman wrote. “Hamas is not a partner to an arrangement of any kind. …You cannot and must not trust base murderers.”

Lieberman warned against giving Hamas any diplomatic achievement following the truce. “A real peace process and a possibility for a strategic breakthrough will be possible only after we liberate the Middle East and Palestinians from Hamas’ threat,” he wrote.

Habayit Hayehudi faction head MK Ayelet Shaked also derided the truce, saying “a cease-fire that prevents Israel from acting against the missiles or tunnels from the Strip brings the next war closer.”

She also said, “Hamas is like ISIS. It must be defeated, not negotiated with.”

Housing Minister Uri Ariel (Habayit Hayehudi) likewise bashed the terms of the truce, saying “any agreement that doesn’t include eliminating the rocket threat on Israelis and demilitarizing the Strip is only half the job. In this situation the defense establishment can only prepare for the next round, which will be soon.”

MK Orit Strock, of the same party, said “the decision to accept the truce reflects contempt for the lives of the fallen soldiers and the lives of the southern residents. The decision reflects contempt for Israeli democracy.”

Former Shin Bet security service head Yuval Diskin also criticized Netanyahu and the cabinet’s conduct during the fighting. “After 70 fatalities and 50 days of fighting, and without the cabinet’s approval of the agreement, the public has a right to an explanation of the details of the agreement or understandings,” Diskin tweeted.

MK Gila Gamliel (Likud) came to Netanyahu’s defense, saying that in some of the security cabinet debates he had to “minimize information to prevent it from leaking out.” She said it was Netanyahu’s right “to share this issue with the defense minister and make the important decision,” adding that he had “legal backing.”