Far-Right Israeli MPs threaten to topple Netanyahu government over West Bank violence
Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition is looking increasingly unstable after far-Right MPs threatened to withdraw their support unless the Israeli prime minister agrees to new security measures amid a spate of violence in the occupied West Bank.
In one of the bloodiest weeks in the territories this year, two Israeli soldiers were killed along with a three-day Israeli baby, who was born by emergency Caesarian after his mother was shot by Palestinian gunmen but died in hospital.
The Israeli military said it killed two Palestinian gunmen as well as an attacker who stabbed two policemen in Jerusalem. Two more Palestinians – a teenage boy and a 60-year-old man – were shot dead in the city of Ramallah.
The turmoil comes as Australia announced on Saturday it will follow the US in moving its embassy to Jerusalem – but only if a peace settlement can be agreed between Israel and Palestine.
A solution to the conflict appeared to be as elusive as ever violence flared in the West Bank. The attacks have left Mr Netanyahu under pressure from the Right-wing of his coalition government to take action.
“If [Palestinians] continue to move about freely on the roads and to slaughter us like ducks, there is no justification for this government’s continuing to exist for even a single additional day,” said Bezalel Smotrich, one of the MPs.
He warned that if Mr Netanyahu did not stop Palestinians from travelling on Israeli-built roads in the West Bank “the blood of the murder victims is on his hands personally”.
Mr Netanyahu’s coalition has only 61 seats in the 120-member parliament, meaning that the two MPs have the power to bring down the government if they carry through with their threat.
Mr Smotrich, who once demanded segregated maternity wards so Jewish women would not be alongside Arab women in Israeli hospitals, has give similar ultimatums in the past but then backed down.
Israel must have an election by November 2019 but most MPs expect Mr Netanyahu will call one in the spring rather than limp along with a one-seat majority.
Polls show Mr Netanyahu would win an election, despite police recommending he be charged with corruption. He denies any wrongdoing.
Around a thousand Right-wing protesters gathered outside Mr Netanyahu’s residence in Jerusalem to call for stronger measures in the West Bank. “We’re done being silent. Our blood is forfeit. We’re tired of dying,” they chanted.
Other members of the Jewish Home are agitating for a new law so the Israeli army can deport the families of Palestinian attackers from the West Bank to Gaza.
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They argue that the law would deter future attackers by making them worry about their families’ fate after they are killed. Human rights groups have denounced the proposal as illegal “collective punishment”.