Finance Minister Denies Prioritizing Targeting Hamas Over Returning Hostages

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Israeli Finance Minister Betzalel Smotrich rebuffed claims that he suggested Hamas’s destruction should take precedence over efforts to secure the release of Israeli hostages held by the militant group.

The minister clarified his stance at a conference in Israel, emphasizing that he merely echoed the sentiments of a significant portion of the Israeli public.

Contrary to reports alleging that he downplayed the importance of hostage negotiations, Smotrich stressed that he had acknowledged the significance of the issue. He reiterated his stance that while the hostage situation remains critical, it should not overshadow the urgent need to address the threat posed by Hamas. According to him, his comments aimed to reflect the sentiments of many Israelis who prioritize the dismantling of Hamas as a primary objective.

“The next deal should be better for us in terms of the hostage-to-terrorist ratio and the days of respite for each hostage, and certainly not an infinitely worse ratio than the last one,” Smotrich declared, underlining his commitment to securing favorable terms in any negotiation.

Despite his assertion of representing a prevailing viewpoint, opinion polls present a more nuanced picture. Findings from the Jewish People Policy Institute indicate a split in public opinion, with 40% of Israelis prioritizing Hamas’s eradication, 32% favoring hostage release, and 28% expressing no strong preference. Similarly, a survey by the Israel Democracy Institute showed a slim majority—51%—advocating for prioritizing the hostage issue.

Smotrich’s remarks come amid ongoing efforts to navigate a complex security landscape, with tensions heightened by the Israel-Hamas conflict and the imperative to secure the safe return of Israeli hostages. –i24 News


1 COMMENT

  1. Why should he deny it if he believes it? It’s not like it’s a radical belief. I, as well as millions of others believe the same thing. Every Hamas operative, whether fighting or in prison , should be killed. Every Arab caught attempting terrorism should be killed, not imprisoned.

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