Israeli officials say Netanyahu dissolved war cabinet after key partner bolted government

AP , Monday 17 Jun 2024

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dissolved the influential War Cabinet tasked with steering the war in Gaza, Israeli officials said Monday, a move that comes days after a key member of the body bolted the government over frustrations surrounding the Israeli leader's handling of the war.

War Cabinet
In this file photo, from left, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz speak during a news conference in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, Israel. AP


The move was widely expected following Benny Gantz's departure earlier this month, which he said came after mounting frustrations over Netanyahu's handling of the war. Gantz's absence makes Netanyahu more dependent on his ultranationalist allies to govern and the dissolution of the War Cabinet underlines that shift is underway as Israel continues its eight-month-long war in Gaza.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the change with the media, said that going forward Netanyahu would hold smaller forums with some of his government members for sensitive issues surrounding the war. That includes his security Cabinet, where far-right governing partners who oppose cease-fire deals and have voiced support for reoccupying Gaza, are members.

The War Cabinet was formed in the early days of the war, when Gantz, a centrist opposition party leader, joined the coalition in a show of unity following the start of the Israeli war on Gaza. He had demanded that a small decision-making body steer the war, in a bid to sideline far-right members of Netanyahu's government.

It was made up of three members — Gantz, Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant — and together they made important decisions throughout the course of the war.

Gantz's departure, while not posing a direct threat to Netanyahu's rule, rocked Israeli politics at a sensitive time. The popular former military chief was seen as a statesman who boosted Israel’s credibility with its international partners at a time when Israel finds itself at its most isolated.

Netanyahu's government is Israel's most religious and right-wing ever. In Israel's fractious parliamentary system, Netanyahu relies on a group of small parties to help keep his government afloat and without the support of Gantz's party, Netanyahu could be more beholden to the far-right allies who have repeatedly pledged to topple the government if their demands are not met.

Critics say Netanyahu’s wartime decision-making has been influenced by the ultranationalists in his government. Netanyahu denies the accusations and says he has the country’s best interests in mind.

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