Home News Israel’s wartime government in trouble as dissatisfaction with Netanyahu grows

Israel’s wartime government in trouble as dissatisfaction with Netanyahu grows

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Benny Gantz, a centrist member of Israel’s war cabinet, issued an ultimatum to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday, saying he would leave the government if it did not soon develop a plan for the future of the Gaza war.

While Gantz’s departure will not topple the country’s emergency wartime government, the move will further put pressure on the fragile coalition that has provided Mr Netanyahu’s far-right government with international legitimacy. boost, and will make the Prime Minister more reliant on his hardline partners.

“If you choose the path of the fanatics and drag the country into the abyss, we will be forced to leave the government,” Gantz told a televised news conference. “We will turn to the people and build a government that earns their trust.”

Gantz, who leads the National Unity Party, said he would give Netanyahu until June 8, three weeks’ time, to develop a plan aimed at ensuring that Hamas-led militants are able to reach Gaza in October. hostages were released. 7. Address issues such as the future governance of the territory, returning displaced Israelis to their homes, and advancing normalization with Saudi Arabia.

Gantz’s ultimatum is the latest sign that Netanyahu is under pressure to develop a post-war plan. The prime minister is increasingly under pressure from outside the United States, Israel’s closest ally, and within his own war cabinet to clarify Gaza strategy. Just days ago, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Galant said the government was charting a “dangerous course” and demanded an immediate commitment from Netanyahu not to establish an Israeli military junta in Gaza.

In response to Gantz’s ultimatum, Netanyahu accused the former military chief and long-time political rival of calling for “Israel’s failure” by effectively allowing Hamas to remain in power.

He added that Gantz “chose to issue an ultimatum to the prime minister rather than to Hamas.”

Netanyahu has failed to secure the freedom of the hostages remaining in Gaza, and popular discontent is growing at home. Israeli forces on Saturday found the body of an Israeli man held in Gaza since October 7, the fourth body found in two days and raising questions about the fate of some 128 captives still in the enclave. worries.

As Israeli politicians grapple with how to end the war, the effects of the current strategy are being felt in Gaza.

Israeli ground forces advanced toward the eastern outskirts of Rafah city on Saturday, the Israeli military said. Hamas said in a statement on Saturday morning that its militants opened fire on Israeli forces east of Rafah and near the Rafah crossing.

The war is in its eighth month and more than 34,000 people have died in Gaza, according to Gaza’s health ministry, but the Israeli military has made slow progress toward government goals of dismantling Hamas and releasing hostages.

Ceasefire talks aimed at freeing some hostages have stalled, with Israel and Hamas at odds over the terms of the ceasefire. Israeli troops have also had to return to parts of northern Gaza to fight a renewed Hamas insurgency. The Israeli army and the politically powerful Lebanese armed group Hezbollah continue to bomb each other across the border, leaving tens of thousands of Israelis displaced and wondering when they will be able to return home.

Gantz joined Israel’s government after October 7 as an emergency wartime measure. The result is a fragile and fractious coalition that has pitted Gantz and his allies against Netanyahu’s far-right allies and, occasionally, the prime minister himself.

To some extent, Galante and Gantz’s criticism echoed that of U.S. officials. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said this week that Israel must have a “clear, concrete plan” for post-war governance in Gaza.

The United States has sought to empower the Palestinian Authority, which controls much of the occupied West Bank, to govern Gaza. But Netanyahu and his allies rejected the idea, proposing a takeover by Palestinians with no ties to Hamas or the Palestinian Authority.

The Biden administration has also called for the establishment of a Palestinian state of which Gaza would be an integral part – a proposal that has lost support in Israel since the Oct. 7 Hamas-led terror attack.

On Saturday, Gantz vowed not to “allow any party, friend or foe, to impose a Palestinian state on us,” echoing Netanyahu’s rhetoric against Palestinian sovereignty.

Gantz said Gaza should be temporarily governed by an “American-European-Arab-Palestinian” civilian administration with Israeli security oversight until a permanent solution is found. Mr Gantz joined Mr Netanyahu in denying any role for the internationally backed Palestinian Authority

The deaths of hostages and resurgence of fighting against Hamas in recent days underscore the failure of Netanyahu’s current strategy.

Israeli forces said on Saturday they had found the body of 53-year-old Israeli man Ron Binyamin, the fourth hostage brought to Israel for burial in the past two days.

According to Israeli authorities, approximately 124 of the more than 250 people taken hostage on October 7 remain in Gaza. Four other prisoners had been held there for years, long before the Hamas attack. According to Israeli government statistics, at least 35 of the remaining hostages are presumed dead.

As fighting intensifies near the southern Gaza city of Rafah, aid to the enclave has been reduced. Trucks laden with humanitarian aid began rolling onto the Gaza coast this week through temporary U.S.-built docks.

But U.S. officials and aid groups stress that the new maritime corridor cannot replace land crossings, which are the most efficient way to get supplies to civilians in the territory. Over the next 10 days, only 310 relief trucks entered Gaza through these crossings. Israel begins military invasion in the southern city of Rafah, U.N. officials said on Friday.

That’s well below the 500-plus people per day that aid groups say are needed to maintain minimally acceptable living conditions.

Humanitarian workers have repeatedly warned of looming famine amid severe shortages of basic supplies for civilians, many of whom have been displaced multiple times. According to UNRWA, the main UN agency responsible for the Palestinian issue, more than 800,000 Palestinians have been forced to flee Rafah since Israel began its military offensive on May 6.

Israel continues to describe its offensive in and around Rafah as a “limited operation” against Hamas.But recently satellite images Showing growing destruction, indicating that a large-scale invasion has begun. On Thursday, Israel said it would send more troops to Rafah, signaling its intention to launch attacks deeper into the city despite international concerns about the threat to civilians from a full-scale invasion.

Rafah has become home to more than a million Palestinians who have fled their homes elsewhere in Gaza in search of a modicum of safety, even as Israeli forces continue to carry out airstrikes against the city. It was one of the last places not invaded by Israeli soldiers.

Many Palestinians are now seeking refuge in places such as Mawasi, a coastal area west of the central city of Deir al-Balah and Khan Younis. The United Nations and aid groups say both sites are overcrowded and facing dire conditions. In the north, Israeli attacks and new military evacuation orders have displaced more than 160,000 people in various areas around Gaza City, according to UNRWA.

Mohammed Laham and his family fled Rafah last week and returned to Khan Younis, their home in Gaza and a city scarred by Israeli bombing. They hope they won’t be forced to flee again.

“The situation in my city is unbearable, but at least it’s better than living in a tent,” said Mr. Laham, a 41-year-old plumber and father of five. “I’m finally back in Khan Younis, my hometown, where I know the people, the places and the streets.”

The lack of aid has forced families like the Lahams to become almost completely self-reliant.

On Thursday, Mr Laham lined up with his two sons to fill water from a large tank brought by the charity. While water was free that day, nothing else was free in the ravaged city, with market prices rising due to food shortages and limited goods.

Raja Abdul Rahim, Pilar Speyerand victoria king Contributed reporting.

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