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Benny Gantz resigns from Israel’s emergency war cabinet

Centrist politician and former military chief Benny Gantz resigned from Israel’s emergency war cabinet, accusing PM Benjamin Netanyahu of prioritizing political survival over strategic decisions in Gaza.



In a move that leaves Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu more reliant on far-right elements of his coalition, former military chief and politician Benny Gantz has resigned from the emergency war cabinet.

Gantz, a significant rival to Netanyahu and leader of the centre-right National Unity party, served as the Chief of General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) from 2011 to 2015.

After his military career, Gantz entered politics, founding the Israel Resilience Party, which later merged into the Blue and White alliance. He served as Defense Minister and Alternate Prime Minister in a power-sharing agreement with Netanyahu.

Known for his centrist views, Gantz has been a key figure in Israeli politics, often positioning himself as a rival to Netanyahu. He joined the cabinet following Hamas’ attack on 7 October. His participation was intended to promote national unity during the crisis.

However, disagreements over the strategy in Gaza and the handling of Israeli hostages have intensified.

Gantz accused Netanyahu of prioritizing personal political considerations over critical strategic decisions.

“Netanyahu is preventing us from progressing towards a true victory,” Gantz stated in a televised address on Sunday night.

“For this reason we are leaving the emergency government today, with a heavy heart, yet wholeheartedly.” He further criticized the prime minister for his hesitation and procrastination, urging an election to prevent national disunity, adding, “do not let our nation tear apart.”

Last month, Gantz proposed a six-point plan that includes the return of hostages, ending Hamas’ rule, demilitarizing Gaza, and establishing an international administration of civilian affairs. Mr Gantz’s plan also supports efforts to normalize relations with Saudi Arabia.

He said he would quit the government if it was not adopted by 8 June.

Gantz’s resignation was delayed by a day due to the unexpected rescue of four Israeli hostages, which the Gaza health ministry reported resulted in 274 deaths and 698 injuries. His departure also means Gadi Eisenkot, an IDF general and war cabinet observer, is stepping down.

Netanyahu had previously urged Gantz to remain in the government on Saturday, emphasizing the need for unity.

“We must remain united within ourselves in the face of the great tasks before us. I call on Benny Gantz – do not leave the emergency government. Don’t give up on unity,” Netanyahu posted on Telegram.

Despite Gantz’s resignation, Netanyahu retains a majority coalition in parliament. However, the departure will affect Israel’s international standing, particularly in Washington, where Gantz was seen as a moderating influence on Netanyahu. Extremist national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir has already requested Gantz’s seat on the war cabinet.

Netanyahu responded to Gantz’s resignation on X, stressing the need to “join forces” rather than quit.

Israel’s opposition leader, Yair Lapid, supported Gantz’s decision, calling for the replacement of what he described as an “extreme and reckless government” with a more balanced leadership.

Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant are now the only remaining members of the war cabinet, who also frequently clash.

The prime minister is considering dissolving the war cabinet and reverting to a previous model where security issues are discussed in a smaller forum before being presented to the full cabinet for approval.

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Maybe a chance for peace? At least he has taken a position.