Min. Bezalel Smotrich at Jerusalem Conference: ‘Hostage deal? Only under better terms’

Minister Bezalel Smotrich spoke at the Jerusalem Conference about the attempt to pressure Israel into agreeing to a Palestinian state: ‘I would like to hear Benny Gantz object to this.’

Bezalel Smotrich at the Jerusalem ConferenceHaim Twito

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich (Religious Zionism) has said that an absurd situation has been created, according to which Israel is expected to pay a higher price than it did in the previous deal in order to release the hostages.

Speaking to journalist and political commentator Amit Segal at the 21st Besheva Jerusalem Conference, Smotrich said: “Something strange is going on here. We have returned to fighting with all our strength and the IDF is doing amazingly well in Gaza. The previous deal was somewhat reasonable; one to three terrorists for a hostage and 10 hostages for each day of respite. Logically the upcoming deal should be on even better terms, because we have crushed Hamas and [Hamas leader Yahya] Sinwar should now be sitting in his hole, broken and ready to surrender and give us our hostages.”

“So after so many months of fighting, it is unacceptable that we would have to give in now. On the one hand, we want to break the civilian dependence on Hamas, on the other hand, we want to preserve their civilian capabilities. What needs to change is the discourse in the television studios and on the street, where if you didn’t know better, you would think we have made no gains in this war when we are actually winning. I oppose a deal where the stakes are higher, and the respite is longer. It makes no sense.”

According to Smotrich, “The price now is unacceptable. We will not flood the streets with terrorists. We did this for Gilad Shalit and now we are paying the price for our mistake. We sincerely want to bring the hostages home, but we have to do it in a responsible way.”

“We have priorities in this war. First we must ensure victory over Hamas and that there will be no threat from Gaza to Israel. We also must free the hostages. I think the contradiction between them is something that was created in order to promote goals. Sinwar does not want the hostages, not even to save the Hamas rule in Gaza. His goal is to break down and polarize Israeli society. We are working to bring the hostages home and the best way to do it is to maximize military pressure. The worst way is to show how stressed we are and ready to pay any price,” he emphasized.

Minister Smotrich lamented on the way the war has been presented in the media: “Anyone who open newspapers and television in Israel thinks there is no chance of winning. I am telling you that we will win both in the south and in the north. There is nothing more important for the economy right now than a victory. There will be no thriving economy without victory and there will be no security without victory. This is an event. We are managing it correctly. Do not panic too much. With God’s help we will succeed.”

He was asked what influence he has within the government and answered, “I influenced the transfer of funds to the Palestinian Authority. We ensured the Americans’ commitment not to transfer any money to Gaza. Beginning next month, a large sum will be subtracted from the funds going to the Palestinian Authority because of its funding terrorist prisoners’ families. This is work that is being done slowly, quietly and thoroughly, without headlines and loud announcements. Before the war, we approved the largest ever number of housing units in Judea and Samaria. I believe in doing things quietly and without fanfare. When the time comes to appreciate what has been accomplished– the public will do so.”

Minister Smotrich also referred to Minister Hili Tropper’s speech at the Conference regarding opposition to the establishment of a Palestinian state: “I would be very happy for Benny Gantz to say this himself. We passed a resolution that opposes a Palestinian state and he opposed it. We changed it to say that we oppose a unilateral decision, and everyone signed it. Benny Gantz hosted [Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud] Abbas in his home. He kept forcing a conversation about the day after. What is this day after? Will the Palestinian Authority make reforms? I say unmistakably, there is not and will not be another country from the [Mediterranean] Sea to the Jordan [River], and there will be no entity that supports terrorism.”

“I would love to hear Benny Gantz say it himself, and not send Hili Tropper. It’s true that we need to maintain unity and manage disputes in a different way than we did before the war. We held discussions in a matter-of-fact manner even then, and we did not threaten to refuse to serve in the army or to take our money out of the country but we are also taking stock. No one should get confused. There is right and there is left, and there are disputes and different opinions, but we can find common ground on major problems. I suggest not blurring the differences, and not being naïve and thinking that the disagreements are over.”

February 26, 2024 | 2 Comments »

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  1. “During an unannounced visit to Van Leeuwen Ice Cream in Manhattan, near Rockefeller Plaza, Biden was asked about when a ceasefire in Gaza might start.

    “I hope by the end of the weekend,” Biden said, per the pool report.”


    “ERUSALEM (AP) — Following an Israeli newspaper’s scoop, the country’s prime minister has “frozen” his annual ice cream budget.

    Benjamin Netanyahu’s office on Sunday said once he was made aware of the state-financed contract issued to purchase ice cream from his favorite Jerusalem parlor, he ordered it stopped immediately. Netanyahu called the contract “excessive and unacceptable.”

    The Israel economic publication Calcalist published a list of items on the prime minister’s annual expense budget, including $2,700, or NIS 10,000, for ice cream.”

    From 2013. Ah, innocent days of yore.


    Is Biden paying for his own ice cream? 😀

    Serious issues of corruption, here.