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Benny Gantz threatens to quit Israeli government over Gaza plan : NPR

Benny Gantz speaks at the Pentagon in December 2021 in Arlington, Virginia. Gantz, a former army chief and current minister in Israel’s three-member war cabinet, said he will leave the government in three weeks if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not come up with a plan. to replace Hamas in Gaza.

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Benny Gantz speaks at the Pentagon in December 2021 in Arlington, Virginia. Gantz, a former army chief and current minister in Israel’s three-member war cabinet, said he will leave the government in three weeks if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not come up with a plan. to replace Hamas in Gaza.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

TEL AVIV, Israel — A key member of Israel’s war cabinet said Saturday he will leave the government in three weeks if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not propose a plan to replace Hamas in Gaza.

The ultimatum issued by Benny Gantz, former army chief and current minister in Israel’s three-member war cabinet, reflects the growing discontent among Israeli leaders with the protracted war in Gaza and with political partners in far right of Netanyahu. The move could pose a significant challenge to the stability of Netanyahu’s government.

Netanyahu is leading the military offensive in Gaza through his three-member war cabinet, along with Gantz and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. Within days, the two men accused the prime minister of neglecting a Gaza exit strategy that would see another Palestinian civilian entity take over to govern the territory. Gallant voiced his criticism of Netanyahu’s handling of the war in a speech on Thursday.

In his speech and in a letter to Netanyahu on Saturday, Gantz outlined a six-point plan that he asked the prime minister to adopt by June 8: prioritize the return of Israeli hostages from Gaza; the return of Israeli civilians displaced by fighting near Lebanon’s troubled border to their homes by September; advance an agreement to normalize diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia; create a governing body, overseen by the American, European and Arab parties, as well as unspecified Palestinians, to manage Gaza’s civil affairs after the war; and accept a law guaranteeing equality of military and national service, including ultra-Orthodox Jews who have long been exempt.

“We need a strategic reversal,” Gantz said in his televised speech. To Netanyahu, he said: “The choice is in your hands…this is the moment of truth.” »

Gantz, a centrist, said that if Netanyahu did not accept his plan, he would leave the government and seek to agree on a date for early national elections.

Netanyahu is counting on the support of far-right politicians for his governing coalition, many of whom have a different vision for Gaza’s future: encouraging Palestinians to leave and claim the territory as Israeli by building Jewish settlements there. Some of them also claim that the Israeli military campaign in Gaza takes precedence over a negotiated agreement with Hamas for the return of Israeli hostages.

Netanyahu has resisted U.S. calls to replace Hamas with a reformed Palestinian Authority, a Western-backed Palestinian leadership. He also opposes the idea of ​​a future Palestinian state, which Saudi Arabia sees as a precondition for a normalization deal with Israel.

If Gantz leaves the government, it would not automatically topple Netanyahu’s coalition. But it would remove a key counterweight to Netanyahu’s far-right partners, leaving Netanyahu with little room to maneuver between U.S. demands to end the war and his coalition’s demands to escalate it.

If Netanyahu can keep his coalition intact until parliament is suspended at the end of July, he could still hold power until the end of the year, political commentator Daphna Liel said on Israel’s Channel 12.

Relatives and supporters of Israelis taken hostage by Palestinian militants in Gaza demonstrated Saturday in Tel Aviv to demand their release.

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Relatives and supporters of Israelis taken hostage by Palestinian militants in Gaza demonstrated Saturday in Tel Aviv to demand their release.

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Large protests took place Saturday evening in Tel Aviv and across Israel to demand a deal to release remaining Israeli hostages in Gaza and for early elections. A demonstration in Tel Aviv included speeches from family members of the hostages, as well as the ambassadors of the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany, as well as a videotaped speech by Hillary Clinton.

Also on Saturday, the Israeli military said it had recently recovered the additional body of an Israeli civilian killed on October 7 and taken by Hamas militants to Gaza, as well as three other bodies of Israelis. Israel says there are 128 hostages remaining in Gaza, including 38 whom Israel has declared dead.

Gaza health officials report more than 80 Palestinians killed in past day

This image provided by the US military shows trucks loaded with humanitarian aid from the United Arab Emirates and the US Agency for International Development crossing the Trident Pier before arriving on the beach in the Gaza Strip on Friday .

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This image provided by the US military shows trucks loaded with humanitarian aid from the United Arab Emirates and the US Agency for International Development crossing the Trident Pier before arriving on the beach in the Gaza Strip on Friday .

Staff Sgt. Malcolm Cohens-Ashley/US Army via AP

Violent fighting continued on Saturday in the Gaza Strip, particularly in eastern Rafah, while health authorities reported more than 80 Palestinians killed over the past day. The UN reports that women and children were among those killed in Israeli strikes in recent days. Several Israeli soldiers were killed this week by friendly fire. Israel says troops located tunnel shafts and weapons installations and killed militants.

The head of the main UN agency in Gaza says almost half of Rafah’s population, around 800,000 Palestinians, have fled the southern Gaza city since Israeli troops entered the eastern part from the city two weeks ago.

In the occupied West Bank, rare Israeli airstrikes killed a prominent Palestinian activist in the city of Jenin, the Israeli military said. Along the Lebanese-Israeli border, Israel struck Hezbollah targets and shots were fired from Lebanon toward Israel.

Also on Saturday, the US military said the first aid trucks had landed from a floating jetty off the coast of Gaza, in a bid to relieve hunger in Gaza. U.N. officials have said it would take more than double the amount of aid that would have to be delivered by sea to meet the needs in Gaza.

Alon Avital, Hadeel Al-Shalchi and Lauren Migaki contributed to this story from Tel Aviv.

News Source : www.npr.org
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