Otzma Yehudit's ministers boycotted Sunday morning's weekly cabinet meeting due to what party chairman and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir said were "unacceptable" security and diplomatic decisions, the party said in a statement on Sunday morning.
"Also in the past few days, the prime minister and defense minister continue with their policy, freeing the Jordanian terrorist [MP Imad Adwan, who was caught last week smuggling arms into Israel], releasing the bodies of terrorists and more. This is unacceptable and cannot continue. The policy must change, the government must shift to a fully right-wing policy. We received a mandate from the public to change direction – and this must happen," Ben-Gvir said in the statement.
"The policy must change, the government must shift to a fully right-wing policy."National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir
While the cabinet met, the national security minister visited the headquarters of the YAMAM, Israel Police’s National Counter Terrorism Unit, where he said that he was "insisting and fighting" so that the unit could fight terror with "as few limitations as possible."
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant in the meeting answered Ben-Gvir's claims regarding the bodies of terrorists, saying that in general corpses of terrorists were not an important asset, and adding that he was not bothered ministers that criticize him, since "most of them have seen fewer terrorists’ bodies than I have."
Ben-Gvir responded later in a video statement that while he had no doubt that Gallant saw many corpses of terrorists, "In recent years, I saw dozens of murdered [terror victims], and for those victims we need to stop the containment [of terror], stop the concessions, not to release bodies, not to release terrorists, but kill them."
Ben-Gvir also did not attend a meeting later on Sunday of the Ministerial Committee on Legislation.
Otzma Yehudit has two ministers other than Ben-Gvir: Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu, and Development of the Negev and Galilee and National Resilience Minister, Yitzhak Wasserlauf
The absence of the Otzma Yehudit ministers from the cabinet meeting came after Ben-Gvir announced last week that the party will be boycotting votes in the Knesset plenum until he is given "significant influence" over national security policy.
Tensions rise between Ben-Gvir and Netanyahu
The heightened tension between Ben-Gvir and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu began on Tuesday when the former was not invited to participate in a security situation assessment after over 20 rockets were fired from Gaza earlier in the day. The national security minister at first decided to respond only by boycotting Wednesday's Knesset plenum.
However, the Likud put out a statement on Wednesday telling Ben-Gvir that if he was unhappy with the government's decisions, he was welcome to resign. The national security minister responded by prolonging the boycott on the Knesset plenum until he is not only invited to important security decision-making forums, but also given an active role in setting policy.
The absence of Otzma Yehudit's six MKs from the Knesset plenum means that the coalition will have a narrow 58-56 majority until the issue is resolved.