Home News Netanyahu disbands wartime cabinet after two members resign

Netanyahu disbands wartime cabinet after two members resign

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has dissolved his wartime cabinet, officials said on Monday, after the departure of two key members sparked demands from far-right politicians for representation in the influential group.

The two members, Benny Gantz and Gadi Eisenkot, quit Netanyahu’s Small War Cabinet Last week, the two sides disagreed over the direction of the Gaza war. Both men are former military chiefshas been seen as a moderate voice in the body, which was created last October in the wake of Hamas-led attacks on Israel and has made many decisions regarding the conflict.

Israeli officials said Netanyahu’s decision to disband the body — communicated to ministers at a wider cabinet meeting on Sunday — was largely symbolic because Gantz and Eisenkot had already resigned.

Since their departure, discussions about war have been driven by Netanyahu, his defense minister, Yoav Gallant, and close advisers, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

Disbanding the wartime cabinet formalizes the process. It could also quell calls from Netanyahu’s far-right coalition partners who had hoped to fill the vacancies left by Gantz and Eisenkot.

According to Mr. Eisenkot, the influence of one of these far-right leaders, Minister of National Security Itamar Ben Gvir, has long been Shrouded War Cabinet discussions. Immediately after Gantz resigned, Ben Gvir asked to join the group, writing In X Now is “the time to take courageous decisions that will achieve real deterrence and bring real security to the residents of southern Israel, northern Israel and the entire country.”

Israeli news media reported on Monday that Netanyahu’s move to dissolve the wartime cabinet was a direct response to the demand.

For now, major decisions about the Gaza war — such as whether to agree to a ceasefire with Hamas — will still be made by a separate, wider security cabinet, which includes Mr. Ben Gvir and another far-right member, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich. Both have argued strongly that Israel’s military offensive on Gaza must continue until Hamas is eliminated.

The smaller war cabinet, which oversaw the fighting in Gaza, has created an aura of consensus and legitimacy internationally as Israel has become increasingly isolated in its handling of the war, with members such as Gantz and Eisenkot serving as military chiefs of staff for centrist opposition factions in Netanyahu’s government.

“Netanyahu was listening to very serious opinions,” said Mitchell Barak, an Israeli pollster and analyst who served as an aide to Netanyahu in the 1990s, citing Gantz and Eisenkot’s military careers. “Now he has lost that ability. What he has now is more of an echo chamber.”

Israeli news media report that Netanyahu is now expected to rely on advisers like Ron Dermer, a longtime confidant of the prime minister who served as ambassador to the United States and as a non-voting member of the war cabinet.

But Barak added that it was important to remember that Netanyahu was always in the driver’s seat.

He said disbanding the wartime cabinet “would centralize and consolidate his power and make any mutiny more difficult.”

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