The Religious Zionism party ultimately voted to support the hostage deal on Tuesday night after its leaders previously expressed opposition to the deal. Party chairman Minister Bezalel Smotrich agreed to support the deal after a new clause was inserted into the Cabinet's resolution approving the deal.
Channel 12 News commentator Amit Segal reported that the section added at Smotrich's behest states that the completion of the implementation of the outline for the release of Israeli hostages in accordance with the decision will not be later than 10 days from the date of the end of the first batch of releases of terrorists from Israeli prisons.
Security prisoners who have not been released by this time will no longer be able to be released under the decision, according to the clause.
In practice, this means that the Cabinet will have to vote again in order to release any prisoners who were not released during this ten-day period, a decision which may not be passed a second time. The purpose of the clause is to ensure that the Cabinet will have to vote again if Hamas attempts to extend the ceasefire Israel agreed to as part of the deal.
Minister Smotrich explained his decision to support the hostage deal this morning: "It is no secret that before the discussion in the Cabinet, we had a different opinion, but during the long and in-depth discussion, we were all convinced that the return of the hostages would advance the goals of the war and that the government, the cabinet and the entire security system are committed, without reservation, to the continuation of the war until the destruction of Hamas. We were convinced that the IDF is ready to protect our forces and even to take advantage of the short operational break, to prepare and amass achievements for the continuation of the campaign and that the deal included clear strategies that will prevent foot-shuffling and future surrender to [Hamas leader Yahya] Sinwar's manipulations."
"For these reasons, we decided that this is a good and positive deal and we voted in favor of it. We hope that it will come to fruition and that many families will be reunited in the coming days, and that this will be an important contribution to raising the spirit and national morale and, in any case, to the total support of the nation for the continuation of the war until we have achieved our overall goals," noted Smotrich.
"We call on the heroic combat soldiers and commanders, in regular and reserve service – be proud! Your dedication and pursuit of victory brought about the great achievement of returning many hostages home and, with God's help, your determination in the future will lead to the destruction of Hamas and other terrorist organizations, the demobilization of the entire Gaza Strip, and the return of all the hostages. We have no intention of stopping. On the contrary – the political echelon stands behind you, believes in you and is convinced that you will complete the mission, destroy the Hamas Nazis in Gaza and restore national security and honor to the citizens of Israel," he concluded.