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Key minister quits Netanyahu’s war government

A key member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s war cabinet, Benny Gantz, has announced his withdrawal from the country’s war government.

Gantz, a former defense minister without portfolio who entered the war cabinet shortly after the beginning of the ongoing conflict with Palestinian militant group Hamas last October, announced his resignation on Sunday citing a disagreement with Netanyahu’s policies.

“Netanyahu is preventing us from progressing towards a true victory,” he said in a statement . “For this reason we are leaving the emergency government today, with a heavy heart, yet wholeheartedly.”

Gantz also called upon Netanyahu to set a date for new elections, urging him to “not let our nation be torn apart.”

While the departure of Gantz itself would not collapse the ruling coalition, given that his centrist Israel Resilience party holds only six seats in the Knesset, his move is bound to send a shockwave across the country’s political landscape.

Shortly after the announcement, another minister without portfolio, former IDF Chief of Staff, Gadi Eisenkot, also resigned from the cabinet. Yechiel Tropper, a member of the Knesset, made the same announcement.

  • Netanyahu took to X, formerly Twitter, to lament Gantz’s resignation, urging him not to quit the “battle,” and claiming it is actually “time to join forces” instead. The PM claimed he is ready to work with any Zionists party willing to “assist in bridging victory over our enemies.”

The disintegration of Israel’s war cabinet has coincided with the resignation of a top Israeli general in charge of Gaza operations, over the failure to stop the initial October 2023 attack by Hamas.

  • In a letter to his superiors, the head of the IDF’s Gaza Division, Brig. Gen. Avi Rosenfeld, said he had failed in his “life’s mission” and is quitting military service altogether. Rosenfeld is the second top officer to resign over the October 7 attack, after the IDF’s chief of military intelligence quit earlier this year.

Source: RT

Gantz’s departure will not endanger the parliamentary majority in the Knesset held by the ruling right-wing coalition.

He called for early elections, saying “there should be elections that will eventually establish a government that will win the trust of the people and be able to face challenges”.

“I call on Netanyahu: set an agreed election date.”

Gantz last month threatened to leave the emergency government – formed last year to oversee the war on Gaza – if Netanyahu failed to present a post-war plan for the besieged and bombarded Palestinian territory, where Israel is continuing a ground and aerial bombardment campaign that has killed more than 37,000 people since October 7, according to Gaza health officials.

Demonstrations against the Netanyahu-led government are important but must be lawful, Gantz said.

“The protests are important, however, they need to be conducted in a legal manner and they must not encourage hatred. We are not each other’s enemies. Our enemies are outside of our borders,” he told reporters.

“I will be part of a national unity government that includes all centrist parties and only that option will allow us to face all the challenges that stand before us, even with Netanyahu. Like I said, what we need is true and genuine unity and not partial unity.”

Don’t ‘abandon the front’

Gantz also called on Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant to “do what is right”.

Netanyahu issued a brief statement calling on Gantz not to “abandon the front”, but his departure will not endanger the parliamentary majority of 64 seats in the 120-seat Knesset held by the ruling right-wing coalition.

Gantz is seen as Netanyahu’s main political rival in Israel. He was a leading figure in the opposition before joining the war cabinet.

Al Jazeera’s Sara Khairat, reporting from Jordan’s capital Amman, said the move did not come as a surprise.

“Benny Gantz was brought into this war cabinet … At the beginning, they showed a united front. These cracks started to appear throughout, and there was much speculation, eventually last month he said that he gave the prime minister an ultimatum,” she said.

Gantz’s departure, Khairat said, leaves the “floor open for the most far-right ministers” within Netanyahu’s coalition government to now join the war cabinet, including Israel’s Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich’s party.

Smotrich reacted to Gantz’s resignation in a post on X. “There is no act less stately than withdrawing from the government during a war,” he said.

“This is exactly what [Yahya] Sinwar, [Hasan] Nasrallah and Iran were aiming for, and unfortunately you are fulfilling their request,” Smotrich also said, referring to Hamas and Hezbollah leaders.

  • “I call on all the leaders of the Zionist parties for whom the State of Israel is important to join the unity government until victory.”

Source: Al Jazeera