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Lapid ready to enter government instead of Ben Gvir, Smotrich, to ensure hostage deal

Opposition Leader Yair Lapid stated on Wednesday that his Yesh Atid party is ready to join the government, replacing the ultranationalist Otzma Yehudit and Religious Zionism parties if that is necessary to secure the release of hostages from Gaza.

In an interview with Channel 12 news, Lapid expressed that his party would act as a “safety net for the government” following strong criticism from far-right parties, led by National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, regarding reported deals on a potential hostage agreement between Israel and Hamas.

Ben Gvir threatened to bring down the government if such a deal was reached, while Netanyahu’s office denied the reports, emphasizing the prime minister’s stance against withdrawal from the Strip and the release of thousands of terrorists.

One potential deal, reported by The Washington Post, suggests the release of all civilian hostages held by Hamas in Gaza over a six-week ceasefire, in exchange for three times as many Palestinian security prisoners being released from Israeli jails. Different details of the potential agreement were reported by other outlets.

Lapid emphasized his commitment to the release of hostages, stating, “I am not prepared for the hostages to not be released over politics. We will do what is needed. If we need to enter the government in the place of Ben Gvir and Smotrich, we will enter the government.” He added that extremists should not be allowed to prevent a deal, emphasizing his focus on saving the hostages rather than supporting Netanyahu.

The Likud party seemed to dismiss Lapid’s offer, asserting that “Yair Lapid is pushing for the immediate end of the war without a decisive victory — we will not agree to it.” However, there were reports suggesting that Justice Minister Yariv Levin might agree to step aside to allow Lapid to join, presenting alternative options for Netanyahu.

Despite conflicting statements and denials about the reported hostage deal, both Israel and Hamas are reportedly considering moving forward with it. Netanyahu has pledged to continue the war, rejecting the release of thousands of security inmates, while Hamas demands the end of the war and a permanent withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza. The fate of 132 hostages abducted by Hamas on October 7 remains uncertain, with both sides evaluating the proposed deal.

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