Israel war cabinet member Benny Gantz threatens to quit unless there’s a new Gaza plan

Benny Gantz, a centrist member of Israel’s three-member war cabinet, threatened on Saturday to resign from the government if it does not adopt a new plan in three weeks’ time for the war in Gaza, a move that would leave Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu more reliant on his far-right allies.

His announcement escalates a divide within Israel’s leadership more than seven months into a war in which it has yet to accomplish its stated goals of dismantling Hamas and returning scores of hostages abducted in the October 7 attack.

Gantz spelled out a six-point plan that includes the return of scores of hostages, ending Hamas’ rule, demilitarising the Gaza strip and establishing an international administration of civilian affairs. It also supports efforts to normalise relations with Saudi Arabia.

He says if it is not adopted by June 8 he will quit the government. “If you choose the path of fanatics and lead the entire nation to the abyss – we will be forced to quit the government,” he said.

Protesters raise placards during a rally near the house of Israeli war cabinet member Benny Gantz in the central town of Rosh Haayin on May 3. Photo: AFP

Gantz, a popular politician and long-time political rival of Netanyahu, joined his coalition and the war cabinet in the early days of the war.

The departure of the former military chief of staff and defence minister would leave Netanyahu even more beholden to far-right allies who have taken a hard line on negotiations over a ceasefire and hostage release, and who believe Israel should occupy Gaza and rebuild Jewish settlements there.

Gantz spoke days after Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, the third member of the war cabinet, openly said he has repeatedly pleaded with the cabinet to decide on a post-war vision for Gaza that would see the creation of a new Palestinian civilian leadership.

Netanyahu is under growing pressure on multiple fronts. Hardliners in his government want the military offensive on Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah to press ahead with the goal of crushing Hamas.

Top ally the US and others have warned against the offensive on a city where more than half of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million had sheltered – hundreds of thousands have now fled – and they have threatened to scale back support over Gaza’s humanitarian crisis.

The US national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, will be in Saudi Arabia and Israel this weekend to discuss the war and is scheduled on Sunday to meet Netanyahu, who has declared that Israel would “stand alone” if needed.

Dmitri Kasavchuk tends to the memorial site for his son Daniel, who died at the age of 21, at the site of the Nova festival where partygoers were killed and kidnapped during the October 7 Hamas attack. Photo: Reuters

Many Israelis, anguished over the hostages and accusing Netanyahu of putting political interests ahead of all else, want a deal to stop the fighting and get them freed.

There was fresh frustration on Friday when the military said its troops in Gaza found the bodies of three hostages killed by Hamas in the October 7 attack. The discovery of the body of a fourth hostage was announced Saturday.

The latest talks in pursuit of a ceasefire, mediated by Qatar, the United States and Egypt, have brought little. A vision beyond the war is also uncertain.

The war began after Hamas’ October 7 attack on southern Israel that killed 1,200 people and took 250 others hostage. Israel says around 100 hostages are still captive in Gaza, along with the bodies of around 30 more.

The Israeli offensive has killed more than 35,000 Palestinians in Gaza, local health officials say, while hundreds more have been killed in the occupied West Bank.



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