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Israeli war Cabinet member Gantz calls for elections in September

In World
April 04, 2024

Benny Gantz, a member of Israel’s war Cabinet, on Wednesday called for new elections in September, saying it would bolster the country’s international credibility and reduce tensions within Israel’s deeply polarized society.

Gantz stopped short of threatening to leave the war Cabinet, which was formed just days after the October 7 Hamas attack, if embattled right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not accede to his demand.

But, according to opinion polls, the retired army general and former defence minister would benefit from a new elections. If they were held today, the centre-right National Union party, which Gantz leads, is forecast to become the strongest parliamentary group. Netanyahu’s Likud party, on the other hand, is seen as suffering huge loses.

That means that if there were to be new elections – and Gantz could maintain his poll ratings – he would be the next prime minister. The official date for the next parliamentary elections in Israel is not until October 2026.

As expected, Netanyahu’s conservative Likud party rejected Gantz’s demands, saying the government will continue as constituted until all war aims in Gaza have been achieved – namely the crushing of Hamas.

An early election would paralyse the country and divide society, as well as destroying the chance of a deal to release the remaining hostages still held by Hamas in Gaza, it said, without elaborating.

Israel’s opposition leader Yair Lapid, on the other hand, has said that the current government should be replaced as quickly as possible.

Many members of the opposition, as well as relatives of the hostages, accuse Netanyahu, now in his sixth term as prime minister, of having no serious interest in securing the release of the hostages, and of prolonging the war in order to stay in power.

Many Israelis also accuse Netanyahu of not having acknowledged any personal responsibility for the Hamas massacre on October 7.

As an opposition politician at the time, Gantz joined the war Cabinet, which has a say in the most important military decisions, a few days after the start of the Gaza war. According to political observers, he plays a moderating role in the Cabinet.

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