Gantz Gives Netanyahu Ultimatum Over War

Rival says he'll leave emergency government unless there's a clear plan in place soon
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted May 18, 2024 4:00 PM CDT
Gantz Gives Netanyahu Ultimatum Over War
Benny Gantz speaks at an event in August 2022.   (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov, File)

A member of Israel's senior leadership announced Saturday that he'll resign unless Benjamin Netanyahu settles on a plan with his Cabinet for the future of the war against Hamas. "If you choose the path of zealots, dragging the country into the abyss, we will be forced to leave the government," Benny Gantz, a retired general and longtime opponent of Netanyahu's, told the prime minister in a televised news conference, the New York Times reports. "We will turn to the people and build a government that will earn the people's trust." He gave Netanyahu until Jun. 8.

Netanyahu's government would still hold 64 seats in the 120-member Parliament, thus surviving Gantz's departure. But the announcement deepens the divide in the leadership, per the AP, more than seven months into the war, in which Israel has not accomplished its goals of dismantling Hamas and returning hostages abducted in Hamas' Oct. 7 attack. The tenuous Netanyahu-Gantz partnership, launched after the attack, has helped keep the nation united. But national frustration with the prime minister is growing over the lack of a deal to return the hostages. Thousands of people rallied Saturday evening in Israel to demand a hostage agreement, as well as new elections.

Polls show Gantz to be Netanyahu's most popular rival, per Reuters. And the leadership includes those who want Israel to build new settlements and govern Gaza indefinitely. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, who has accused Netanyahu of mismanaging the war, called on him to come out against involvement in the civil or military rule of Gaza once the war ends. Gantz did not say Saturday who should control Gaza, saying there are no "magic solutions." He did propose demilitarizing Gaza and setting up an international administration of civilian affairs with American, European, Arab, and Palestinian cooperation, per the AP. (More Israel-Hamas war stories.)

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