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In the midst of the conflict in Gaza, the Israeli war cabinet is torn apart

Photo: Abir Sultan Pool via Associated Press Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and centrist Benny Gantz, also a member of the war cabinet, during a press conference on an Israeli military base on October 28

Mathieu Gorse – Agence France-Presse in Jerusalem


  • Middle East

A symbol of national unity in the conflict against Hamas, the Israeli war cabinet is shaken by the political rivalry between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the centrist Benny Gantz, at the top of the voting intentions.

The visit, unauthorized by Benjamin Netanyahu, of Benny Gantz to Washington on Monday and Tuesday and to London on Wednesday exposed the deep differences between the two men, at a time when international pressure is intensifying on Israel in the face of the major humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

According to Yohanan Plesner, director of the Israel Democratic Institute (IDI), a liberal think tank, this trip by Benny Gantz to Israel's main supporter “shows that his confidence in Netanyahu is at his lowest point and decided to represent another voice in Washington.”

This trip caused a lot of noise in Israel, where the centrist leader incurred the wrath of ministers from Likud, Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing party.

“He is acting behind the Prime Minister’s back,” denounced Miri Regev, the Minister of Transport, describing this move as “subversive”.

Political rival of Benjamin Netanyahu, the former Minister of Defense and leader of the centrist National Union party agreed to join the war cabinet in the interests of national unity after the trauma of the he unprecedented Hamas attack on October 7, which sparked the war in the Gaza Strip.

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Gantz “prepares his exit”

“But the tensions never disappeared” between the two men who “hate each other,” deciphers Reuven Hazan, professor in the political science department at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The war cabinet has five members, the three main ones being Mr. Netanyahu, Mr. Gantz and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

For Reuven Hazan, Benny Gantz undertook this visit to Washington and London to display his stature as a possible future prime minister and above all to begin “preparing his exit from the government” which is, according to the academic, inevitable.

He is therefore trying to take advantage of the growing concern displayed by Washington about the turn the war is taking in the Gaza Strip, threatened with famine according to the United Nations.

US President Joe Biden and Benjamin Netanyahu are in “open conflict”, with Washington urging the Israeli prime minister not to “continue like this with mass deaths of civilians in Gaza without knowing what he wants to do after” the war, notes Reuven Hazan.

“Close to the Americans”

“Gantz is not Netanyahu, he is closer to (the position of) the Americans” on the post-war period, he assures.

It is a “more comfortable partner” for Washington, “more open to dialogue with moderate partners in the region” and on the role that the Palestinian Authority could play in Gaza after the war, adds Yohanan Plesner.

Last week, Mr. Gantz also welcomed the announcement of a reform of military service made by Yoav Gallant, in order to integrate Orthodox Jews, exempt for religious reasons.

This proposal had the effect of a political bomb in Israel where the media perceived it as a mark of distrust by Yoav Gallant towards Benjamin Netanyahu, even though they are nevertheless both members of the same party.

It indeed puts the Prime Minister in a very uncomfortable position while the two major parties representing the ultraorthodox could bring down his fragile coalition at any time.

Netanyahu is trying at all costs to “avoid early elections”, in which Gantz, on the other hand, has an interest, and has succeeded so far, but “if there is one issue that can bring about the collapse of the coalition, it is that of the recruitment of the ultraorthodox”, summarizes Yohanan Plesner.

Now it remains for Gantz to find the right moment to let go of the prime minister “by showing that he defends Israel's interests” in the long term “and that Netanyahu is only there to protect his interests personal”, says Reuven Hazan.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116