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  • 23 Jun, 2024

Benny Gantz, Israel's war cabinet minister, resigns from Netanyahu's government.

Benny Gantz, Israel's war cabinet minister, resigns from Netanyahu's government.

Gantz's resignation won't threaten the ruling right-wing coalition's majority in the Knesset.

Israeli Minister Benny Gantz announced his resignation from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's emergency government amid a months-long attack on the Gaza Strip, removing the only centrist force from the leader's far-right coalition.

"Prime Minister Netanyahu is blocking our path to real victory. That is why we leave the emergency government today with a heavy heart but with complete confidence," Gantz told a televised news conference on Sunday.

He called for early elections, saying "elections must be held to finally form a government that can win the people's trust and tackle the challenges." "I call on Prime Minister Netanyahu: set an agreed election date."

Last month, Gantz threatened to pull out of the emergency government formed last year to oversee the war in the Gaza Strip, where Israel continues to bombard the area with ground and air strikes, if Netanyahu fails to present a post-war plan for the besieged and shelled Palestinian territory. Gaza health officials say more than 37,000 people have died since Oct. 7.

Gantz said demonstrations against Netanyahu's government were important but must be legal. "Protests are important but they must be lawful and not incite hatred. We are not each other's enemies. "Our enemies are outside our borders," he told reporters.

"I will be part of a national unity government that includes all centrist parties. Only this option will allow us to face all the problems we face, even with Prime Minister Netanyahu." Like I said, what we need is true and genuine unity and not partial unity.”

Don’t ‘abandon the front’

Gantz also called on Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant to “do what is right”.

Netanyahu issued a brief statement calling on Gantz not to “abandon the front”, but his departure will not endanger the parliamentary majority of 64 seats in the 120-seat Knesset held by the ruling right-wing coalition.

Gantz is seen as Netanyahu’s main political rival in Israel. He was a leading figure in the opposition before joining the war cabinet. Sara Khairat, a journalist based in the Jordanian capital, Amman, said the move was not surprising.

"He said his demands were very clear," Khairat said. "Benny Gantz was invited into this war cabinet... At first they presented a united front. These cracks started appearing all over the place, there was a lot of speculation and finally last month they gave the prime minister an ultimatum," she said. Hairt said that the departure of Gunza has left the Netanyahu Allied government a "open floor for the right pastor" to participate in a military office, including the Finance Minister of Israel.

See that you have responded to Gantz resignation in X post. "There is no greater deed than leaving a government during a war," he said.

Smotrich also said, referring to the leaders of Hamas and Hezbollah, "This is exactly what (Yahya) Sinwar, (Hassan) Nasrallah and Iran wanted, and unfortunately you are answering to their demands." "I call on all leaders of Zionist parties for whom the State of Israel is important to join the unity government until it wins."

Smotrich's far-right party has support from the Israeli settler community.