Israeli War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz Resigns From Emergency Government

Israeli War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz resigned from the emergency government in a sign of deepening divisions over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s post-conflict plans for Gaza.

During a press conference in Tel Aviv on Sunday where he announced his resignation, Gantz said the decision was made with a “heavy heart.”

“Unfortunately, Mr. Netanyahu is preventing us from getting closer to true victory, which is the justification for the current painful crisis,” he said.

Considered by some as a potential rival for power in Israel, Gantz asked Netanyahu to set a date for the elections.

Netanyahu responded with a post on X: “Benny, this is not the time to abandon the campaign, this is the time to join forces.”

Opposition leader Yair Lapid endorsed Gantz’s decision as “important and correct” on social media.

Immediately after the announcement, far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir demanded a place in the war cabinet.

Ben-Gvir is part of a right-wing coalition that has threatened to resign and collapse the government whether Israel accepts a ceasefire proposal put forward by US President Joe Biden.

Last month, Gantz set a deadline of 8 of June Netanyahu laid out how Israel would achieve its six “strategic goals,” including ending Hamas rule in Gaza and establishing a multinational civil administration for the territory.

The prime minister dismissed the comments at the time as “worn words” that would mean “defeat for Israel.”

Gantz, a retired army general and frequent Netayanhu critic, had been a member of Israel’s key decision-making “war cabinet,” along with Prime Minister and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

During the press conference, Gantz said that he is not only personally resigning from the government, but is also withdrawing from the National Unity party that he presides over.

The move will not overthrow the Israeli government, as Netanyahu will still have a comfortable 64-seat majority in the 120-seat Knesset.

However, it further isolates the prime minister and exposes deep political divisions over how he conducts the war.

The resignation also comes a day before US Secretary of State Antony Blinken makes a three-day trip to the region, where he plans to visit Israel, Egypt, Jordan and Qatar to push for a ceasefire agreement.

Political rival of Benjamin Netanyahu and former IDF Chief of Staff, Gantz’s centrist National Unity party was in opposition until October 11, 2023, when, following the start of the war following the Hamas attacks of October 7 , agreed to form an emergency government with Mr. Netanyahu.

National Unity occupies five positions in the emergency government.

Gantz’s influence in the government was widely seen as a counterweight to that of far-right members of Netanyahu’s coalition.

In a separate development on Sunday, Israel’s military announced the resignation of a senior commander who headed the IDF’s Gaza division over what he called his failure to prevent the October 7 attacks.

Brigadier General Avi Rosenfeld is the first IDF combat commander to resign since the attacks.

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