Benny Gantz Threatens to Leave the Netanyahu Government Unless a Plan for Post-War Gaza Is Agreed To

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been keeping his wartime coalition together with kite string and chewing gum for months. A big part of his success has been his ability to avoid making any commitments about what post-war Gaza would look like. This is the most divisive issue in his coalition, as Orthodox and conservative parties are advocating for an Israeli military occupation. This is a stance rejected by the U.S., the Palestinians, and most of the world. 

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Finally, it appears that one of the prime minister’s primary coalition partners has had enough of stalling and is demanding that Netanyahu develop a “six-point plan” to give an outline of the shape of Israeli post-war policy.

Benny Gantz heads the National Unity Party and is currently a minister without portfolio in Netanyahu’s wartime cabinet. He is forcing the issue of post-war governance by threatening to withdraw his party from the coalition and resign by June 8 unless his cabinet can reach an agreement on a “six-point plan.”

Gantz’s resignation wouldn’t bring the government down, but it would weaken it severely, giving minor, Orthodox parties a lot more power to drive policy.  

Gantz’s demands include a “plan to bring back the hostages, address the future governance of Gaza, return displaced Israelis to their homes and advance normalization with Saudi Arabia, among other issues,” according to the New York Times.

“If you choose the path of zealots, dragging the country into the abyss, we will be forced to leave the government,” Mr. Gantz said in a televised news conference. “We will turn to the people and build a government that will earn the people’s trust.”

New York Times:

Mr. Gantz’s ultimatum was the latest sign of pressure building on Mr. Netanyahu to develop a postwar plan. The prime minister is increasingly being squeezed — externally from Israel’s closest ally, the United States, and from within his own War Cabinet — to clarify a strategy for Gaza. Just days earlier, Yoav Gallant, Israel’s defense minister, said the government was charting “a dangerous course” and demanded that Mr. Netanyahu immediately pledge not to establish an Israeli military government in Gaza.

In a response to Mr. Gantz’s ultimatum, Mr. Netanyahu accused the former military chief of staff and a longtime political rival of calling for “Israeli defeat” by effectively allowing Hamas to remain in power.

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The situation with the 128 Israeli hostages remaining in Hamas’s hands is fraught. Four bodies of hostages believed to have been alive were found in recent days as the IDF plows forward in Northern Gaza.

“The bodies were found in a Hamas tunnel on Thursday during a major operation that IDF forces conducted in the Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza strip,” according to Axios.

Are any of them left alive? 

The United States has sought to empower the Palestinian Authority, the group that controls much of the occupied West Bank, to govern Gaza. But Mr. Netanyahu and his allies have rejected that idea, proposing that Palestinians unaffiliated with Hamas or the P.A. take over.

The Biden administration has also called for the establishment of a Palestinian state — of which Gaza would be an integral part — a proposal that has lost support in Israel since the Hamas-led terrorist attack on Oct. 7.

The “two-state solution” appears to be finally dead and buried. Even most liberal Israelis are not in favor of giving Palestinians their own state, especially with the possibility that Hamas would end up running the country.

I don’t know if Netanyahu can hold his government together moving forward into a post-war environment. There is little agreement about what post-war Gaza will look like and who will govern the Palestinians. 

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But Netanyahu has pulled rabbits out of the hat before. I would never count out his ability to bring about a solution.

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