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Smotrich slams Netanyahu for Gaza rockets: ‘Maybe time to replace him’

CM 24/04/2021

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“Maybe it’s time to replace [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu,” Religious Zionist Party leader Bezalel Smotrich wrote on Twitter late Saturday night.

His remarks follow the barrage of rockets launched into Israel from the Gaza Strip Saturday night, as well as the ongoing violent riots in Jerusalem.
“Tell me, after countless terror attacks and lynchings from the ‘Arab enemy’ in the last few days and after a barrage of [rockets] from Gaza at the communities in the South, Netanyahu wants us to ‘calm down on both sides?'” he tweeted alongside a video of violence in Jerusalem, adding “Maybe it’s time to replace him.”
Coalition Chairman Miki Zohar of Netanyahu’s Likud Party shot back on social media, calling the Religious Zionist Party leader “Ungrateful.”
“You only passed the [electoral] threshold because the Likud gave you three seats [in the election],” Zohar charged. “A little humility wouldn’t hurt.”

Smotrich soon fired back, writing that “if anyone here who says they ‘gave me’ three seats actually did so, I’d have 15 seats today.”
The Religious Zionist Party leader has long been considered a part of Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc. During the last election campaign, the prime minister had worked hard to encourage voters to vote for Smotrich. Measures included encouraging a joint list with the Otzma Yehudit and Noam parties. In addition, before the last election, Netanyahu had even told representatives of the Ani Shulman Party that Smotrich, along with the ultra-Orthodox parties, “do whatever I say,” as revealed in a leaked video obtained by N12.
But Smotrich seems to disagree, and told Zohar as much.
Netanyahu “did me no favors,” he wrote, adding that “throughout, I emphasized that I am not personally committed to [Netanyahu], but to the values of the Right and religious Zionism.”
And now, it seems he feels the prime minister no longer reflects these values.
“Abandoning the State of Israel and the security of its people to Arab rioters… is not part of my values,” he tweeted, adding “just like the formation of a government that rests and depends on supporters of terrorism and who deny [Israel’s] existence.”Smotrich had been vocally opposed to a coalition with Ra’am, the Islamist Israeli-Arab party led by Mansour Abbas, which had emerged from the elections as a possible kingmaker. Lately, Smotrich’s stance on Ra’am has only gotten tougher, stating last week that he would prefer a fifth election or an anti-Netanyahu coalition that includes Arab MKs than forming a coalition with Abbas.
“It’s time for you and your friends to internalize this: I am right-wing, not a Bibist,” he concluded his message to Zohar, using the term to refer to supporters of Netanyahu.After a reporter wrote on Twitter that this could help Smotrich win votes from anti-Netanyahu supporters on the Right, the Religious Zionist Party leader replied that “not everything is politics, nor is everything a position.”He added that “When Netanyahu acts correctly, I support him. When I have to stand by him against persecution from the justice system, I stand by him. When I have to criticize him when he’s wrong, I do. This is called matter-of-factness.”He referred to Netanyahu as being silent while “the country is in flames and Jews are attacked and afraid,” and said the prime minister acted as if he were from the United Nations by wishing for both sides to calm down.”Blurring the lines between attacker and victim is a moral and factual folly, and I will not stand for it,” he tweeted, calling on Netanyahu to be uncompromising to restore security for Israel immediately.
Gil Hoffman and Sarah Ben-Nun contributed to this report.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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