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

In World
May 19, 2024

Israeli war cabinet minister Benny Gantz has threatened to resign unless Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sets out a post-war plan for the Gaza Strip.

Mr Gantz set an 8 June deadline for 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.”

Mr Netanyahu dismissed the comments as “washed-up words” that would mean “defeat for Israel”.

The war cabinet was established in the days following the 7 October attacks, which saw fighters from Hamas and other militant groups kill around 1,200 people and take another 252 hostages after entering Israel from Gaza.

Mr Gantz’ comments come just days after another war cabinet member, Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, urged Mr Netanyahu to state publicly that Israel had no plans to take over civilian and military rule in Gaza.

Mr Gallant said he had raised the issue repeatedly for months but had received no response.

The episode shows a growing rift in the Israeli war cabinet and Mr Netanyahu’s government.

Mr Gantz and Mr Gallant say that maintaining control over Gaza would increase Israel’s security risks, while others, including far-right members of Mr Netanyahu’s ruling coalition in the government, believe some control over Gaza is necessary in order to defeat Hamas.

In a televised address on Saturday, Mr Gantz told Mr Netanyahu that the “people of Israel are watching you”.

“You must choose between Zionism and cynicism, between unity and factions, between responsibility and lawlessness, between victory and disaster,” he said.

Also among the six strategic goals he set out were the return of all Israeli and foreign hostages still held by Hamas in Gaza and the return of displaced Palestinian civilians to northern Gaza by 1 September.

He also said Israel should continue to seek the normalisation of relations with Saudi Arabia as part of a “comprehensive process to create an alliance with the free world and the West against Iran and its allies”.

Responding to the speech, Mr Netanyahu said that to meet Mr Gantz’s demands would lead to “the end of the war and a defeat for Israel, the abandoning of most of the hostages, leaving Hamas intact and the establishment of a Palestinian state”.

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