Israel opposition leader vows support for Netanyahu on captive release deal despite far-right pushback

AFP , Saturday 1 Jun 2024

Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid vowed Saturday to support Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu if he goes ahead with a truce and captive release deal that his far-right coalition partners have previously opposed.

File photo: Israeli then-foreign minister Yair Lapid meets with Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Rome. AP


US President Joe Biden said on Friday that Israel had offered a new roadmap towards a full ceasefire including the release of captives held by Palestinian resistance group Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Netanyahu's far-right coalition partners, including National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, have previously threatened to bring down his government if Israel's war ends without the destruction of Hamas.

Lapid said in a post on social media platform X: "I remind Netanyahu that he has our safety net for a hostage deal if Ben Gvir and Smotrich leave the government".

"The Israeli government cannot ignore President Biden's important speech," Lapid said.

"There is a deal on the table and it should take it."

Netanyahu on Saturday insisted that the destruction of Hamas was part of the Israeli plan laid out by Biden.

"Israel’s conditions for ending the war have not changed: the destruction of Hamas’s military and governing capabilities, the freeing of all hostages and ensuring that Gaza no longer poses a threat to Israel," the Israeli leader said in a statement.

"Under the proposal, Israel will continue to insist these conditions are met before a permanent ceasefire is put in place."

Israel says 121 captives are still being held in Gaza, including 37 the army says are dead.

Israel's war on Gaza has killed at least 36,379 Palestinians and wounded more than 80,000, mostly women and children, according to Gaza health officials.

The bloodiest Gaza war erupted on October 7 after Hamas launched a surprise offensive into southern Israel.

The ensuing chaos and a frantic Israeli defence response led to 1,189 deaths, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

*This story was edited by Ahram Online

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