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Israel: War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz Resigns from Emergency Government

Israeli war cabinet minister Benny Gantz has resigned from the emergency government, signaling growing rifts over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s post-conflict strategy for Gaza.

During a news conference in Tel Aviv on Sunday, Mr. Gantz announced his resignation with a “heavy heart.”
“Unfortunately, Mr. Netanyahu is preventing us from achieving true victory, which justifies the painful ongoing crisis,” he stated.
Seen by some as a potential contender for leadership in Israel, Mr. Gantz urged Mr. Netanyahu to schedule elections.
Mr. Netanyahu responded on X: “Benny, this is not the time to quit the campaign; this is the time to join forces.”
Mr. Gantz, a political rival of Mr. Netanyahu and former chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), led the centrist National Unity party in opposition until 11 October 2023. After the onset of the war following Hamas’s 7 October attacks, he agreed to form an emergency government with Mr. Netanyahu.
National Unity holds five positions in the emergency government.
Opposition leader Yair Lapid supported Mr. Gantz’s decision as “important and right” on social media.
Immediately after the announcement, far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir demanded a seat in the war cabinet.
Mr. Ben-Gvir is part of a right-wing coalition threatening to quit and collapse the government if Israel accepts a ceasefire proposal from US President Joe Biden.
Mr. Gantz’s role in the government was seen as a counterbalance to the far-right elements of Mr. Netanyahu’s coalition.
Last month, Mr. Gantz set a deadline of 8 June for Mr. Netanyahu to outline how Israel would achieve its six “strategic goals,” including ending Hamas rule in Gaza and establishing a multinational civilian administration for the territory.
The prime minister dismissed these remarks as “washed-up words” that would mean “defeat for Israel.”
A retired army general and frequent critic of Mr. Netanyahu, Mr. Gantz had been a member of Israel’s key decision-making “war cabinet,” along with the prime minister and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant.

Reuters  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Cabinet minister Benny Gantz, holds a press conference in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv,
Israel formed a three-person war cabinet following the 7 October attacks

During the news conference, Mr. Gantz announced that he was not only resigning from the government but also withdrawing from the National Unity party that he chairs. This move will not topple the Israeli government, as Prime Minister Netanyahu still holds a comfortable majority of 64 in the 120-seat Knesset. However, it further isolates the prime minister and exposes the deep political divisions over his handling of the war.

The resignation also comes just one day before U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s three-day trip to the region, where he plans to visit Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and Qatar to advocate for a ceasefire agreement.

In a separate development on Sunday, Israel’s army announced the resignation of Brigadier General Avi Rosenfeld, a senior commander who headed the IDF’s Gaza division. Rosenfeld cited his failure to prevent the 7 October attacks as the reason for his resignation. He is the first IDF combat commander to step down since the attacks.

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