Netanyahu dissolves Israel war cabinet following Gantz departure

Netanyahu’s disbanding of the war cabinet, established shortly after the war in Gaza, comes as Benny Gantz resigned earlier in June [Getty/file photo]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has dissolved the six-member war cabinet, an Israeli official said on Monday, in a widely expected move that came after the departure from government of the centrist former general Benny Gantz.

Netanyahu is now expected to hold consultations about his country’s war in Gaza with a small group of ministers, including Defence Minister Yoav Gallant and Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer who had been in the war cabinet.

The prime minister had faced demands from the far-right nationalist-religious partners in his coalition, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, to be included in the war cabinet, a move which would have intensified strains with international partners, including the United States.

Smotrich and Ben-Gvir have ferociously advocated for the war in Gaza, and have called for the Jewish resettlement of the Gaza Strip, the shooting of women and children and a “total annihilation” of the territory.

Both ministers have also threatened to quit Netanyahu’s cabinet if a Gaza ceasefire includes the release of Palestinian prisoners.

The forum was formed on October 11 after Gantz joined Netanyahu in a national unity government at the start of the war, and also included Gantz’s partner Gadi Eisenkot and Aryeh Deri, head of the religious party Shas, as observers.

Israel began waging its brutal war on Gaza on October 7, which has killed at least 37,347 Palestinians, including women and children.

The establishment of a war cabinet was a core demand of National Unity party chair Gantz to join the coalition. 

The war cabinet’s dissolution has been reportedly “anticipated”, as Ben-Gvir has been lobbying to be added to the forum, while Netanyahu and Gallant will reportedly hold ad hoc consultations with other relevant officials to made “key decisions” on the war, The Times of Israel reported.

“Sensitive decisions” will be addressed in a smaller consultation forum, Haaretz said.

Gantz and Eisenkot both left the government last week, over what they said was Netanyahu’s failure to form a strategy for the Gaza war, ongoing for over eright months.

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