Netanyahu Dissolves His War Cabinet

Move could further complicate cease-fire talks
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 17, 2024 12:11 PM CDT
Netanyahu Dissolves His War Cabinet
From left, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and then-Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz speak during a news conference in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, Israel on Oct. 28, 2023.   (Abir Sultan/Pool Photo via AP, File)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dissolved the small but influential War Cabinet that has overseen the fighting in Gaza, Israeli officials said Monday, a move that comes days after a key member of the body bolted from the government over frustration with the Israeli leader's handling of the war. The move was widely expected following the departure of Benny Gantz, a centrist former military chief. Gantz's absence from the government increases Netanyahu's dependence on his ultra-nationalist allies, who oppose a cease-fire. That could pose an additional challenge to the already fragile negotiations to end the eight-month war in Gaza, per the AP.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Netanyahu would hold smaller forums for sensitive war issues, including with his Security Cabinet, which includes far-right governing partners who oppose cease-fire deals and have voiced support for reoccupying Gaza. The War Cabinet was formed in the early days of the war, when Gantz, then an opposition party leader and Netanyahu rival, joined the coalition in a show of unity following the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on southern Israel. He demanded that a small decision-making body steer the war, in a bid to sideline far-right members of Netanyahu's government. It was made up of three members—Gantz, Netanyahu, and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

Netanyahu has played a balancing act throughout the war, weighing pressure from Israel's top ally, the US, and growing global opposition to the fighting, as well as from his government partners, chief among them Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir.

(More Israel-Hamas war stories.)

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