Israel: War cabinet minister Benny Gantz vows to quit if there is no post-war plan for Gaza

Netanyahu downplayed the threat, said Gantz's plan would amount to defeat for Israel

Israel Palestinians Benny Gantz | AP

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday faced another political hurdle as a member of his war cabinet, former defence minister, Benny Gantz vowed to quit unless Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sets out a post-war plan for the Gaza Strip. 

Setting an ultimatum, Gantz, a former defence minister, said he would leave the government on June 8 if it did not formulate a new war plan to handle the affairs in Gaza, including on who might rule the territory after the war with Hamas.

Gantz said it was necessary to set a plan to achieve six "strategic goals", including the end of Hamas rule in Gaza and the establishment of a multinational civilian administration for the territory. "If you put the national over personal, you will find in us partners in the struggle," he said. "But if you choose the path of fanatics and lead the entire nation to the abyss, we will be forced to quit the government."

Gantz, the political opponent of Netanyahu, said his proposed six-point plan would include bringing a temporary U.S.-European-Arab-Palestinian system of civil administration in Gaza. However, Israel will retain the security control. Other demands include an equitable national service for all Israelis, including ultra-Orthodox Jews, who are now exempted from the military draft.

"Personal and political considerations have begun to penetrate the Holy of Holies of Israel's national security," Gantz said. "A small minority has seized the bridge of the Israeli ship and is piloting it toward the rocky shoal." 

Gantz heads a centrist party which is a member of Netanyahu's emergency war cabinet and is considered Netanyahu's most formidable political rival. Besides Gantz, Defence Minister Yohan Gallant, the third member of the Cabinet, has also called for a plan for Palestinian administration, stating that he wouldn't agree to Israel governing Gaza itself.

For Netanyahu, this could amount to a huge trouble and could even make him dependent on his far-right coalition allies, including National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who could more easily bring down the government if he doesn't meet their demands. If his government collapses, Netanyahu's political future would end, given the legal actions he could face on several cases, including on corruption charges. 

The far-right parties have called for Israel to reoccupy Gaza, encourage the voluntary emigration of Palestinians from the territory and reestablish Jewish settlements that were removed in 2005. 

However, the Prime Minister has brushed off Gantz' threat, stating his conditions would amount to "defeat for Israel, abandoning most of the hostages, leaving Hamas intact and establishing a Palestinian state.

Netanyahu added, however, that he still thought the emergency government was important for prosecuting the war, and that he expects Gantz to clarify his positions to the public.


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