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Gantz threatens to quit Israeli government if no new war plan by June 8

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Benny Gantz has threatened to leave the Israeli government if it does not commit to a new plan for the war with Hamas and its consequences, in an ultimatum that increases political pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In a televised statement Saturday evening, Gantz, an opposition figure and former general who joined Netanyahu’s coalition after Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel, called on the government to agree on a plan in six points, including a model for post-war governance of Gaza, by June 8.

If his demands are not met, Gantz said he would withdraw his centrist National Unity party – which polls suggest will emerge from the new elections as the largest group – from government.

“The choice is in your hands,” Gantz said, addressing Netanyahu directly. “The Netanyahu of ten years ago would have made the right choice. Are you ready to do what is right and patriotic today? »

Netanyahu’s office accused Gantz of choosing to “issue an ultimatum to the prime minister instead of issuing an ultimatum to Hamas.”

“The conditions set by Gantz are abandoned words whose meaning is clear: the end of the war and the defeat of Israel,” the prime minister’s office said in a statement.

Gantz’s ultimatum brings months of tension within Netanyahu’s government over the handling of the war into focus, with Israel still far from achieving its goals of destroying Hamas and freeing the approximately 130 Israeli hostages held there. he still holds in Gaza. At the same time, he faces intense international criticism over the growing humanitarian toll of his attack on the Palestinian enclave.

The departure of the National Unity Party would not automatically topple Netanyahu’s five-party coalition or trigger a snap election, as the prime minister and his far-right and ultra-religious allies would still control 64 of the 120 seats seats of the Israeli Parliament.

But it would mark the end of the cross-party cooperation that followed the October 7 attack. It would also make Netanyahu increasingly beholden to the two far-right parties in his coalition, led by Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir.

Both men demanded that Israel take a more aggressive approach to the war, and push for the reestablishment of Jewish settlements in Gaza – considered illegal by most of the international community – once the war ends.

On Sunday, Ben-Gvir and Smotrich rallied to support Netanyahu.

“Benny Gantz is a small leader and a big deceiver who, from the first moment he joined this government, has focused primarily on efforts to dismantle it,” Ben-Gvir said. He cited Gantz’s trip to Washington earlier this year and meetings in previous years with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as signs of weakness. “The time has come to dismantle the preconceived cabinet and change our policy (to one) that is resolute, powerful and decisive. »

Smotrich wrote on under American pressure. » He demanded that Netanyahu decide that Israel should have full security control over the Gaza Strip.

US national security adviser Jake Sullivan, who is expected to visit Israel on Sunday after a stop in Saudi Arabia, seeks to advance the Biden administration’s position that Israel should allow the relatively secular Palestinian Authority to based in the West Bank, to regain control of Gaza. Band.

Sullivan met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Sunday morning to discuss the war in Gaza and “a credible path to the two-state solution” by ending the conflict and facilitating the entry of humanitarian aid, according to the Saudi state news agency.

In the six-point plan he presented on Saturday, Gantz said that, along with Israeli security oversight, an international “civil governance mechanism” for the enclave should be established with U.S. participation, of Europe, Arabs and Palestinians.

He also said the plan should include the return of Israeli hostages still held by Hamas in Gaza; the defeat of Hamas and the demilitarization of the enclave; the return of Israelis to areas in the north of the country evacuated since the start of the war; steps towards normalization with Saudi Arabia; and a framework for expanding Israeli military service to recruit more ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Gantz presented his ultimatum to Netanyahu as a choice between his vision and that adopted by Smotrich, Ben-Gvir and their allies. “If you choose the path of the fanatics and lead the entire nation into the abyss, we will be forced to leave the government,” he said.

“The people of Israel are watching you. You must choose between Zionism and cynicism, between unity and factionalism, between accountability and anarchy, and between victory and disaster. »

Netanyahu’s critics have repeatedly accused him of letting his decisions about the war be colored by a desire to preserve his coalition, which would collapse if Ben-Gvir and Smotrich leave.

Earlier this week, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant criticized Netanyahu for the lack of a post-war plan for Gaza, urging him to put “national priorities ahead of all other considerations, even with the possibility of personal costs.” or policies”.

Netanyahu rejected accusations he was putting personal considerations ahead of war and said in response to Gallant that any talk of Hamas’s “next day” was “detached from reality” until Israel achieves a victory military in Gaza.

Additional reporting by Ahmed Al Omran in Jeddah

News Source : www.ft.com
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jack colman

With a penchant for words, jack began writing at an early age. As editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, he honed his skills telling impactful stories. Smith went on to study journalism at Columbia University, where he graduated top of his class. After interning at the New York Times, jack landed a role as a news writer. Over the past decade, he has covered major events like presidential elections and natural disasters. His ability to craft compelling narratives that capture the human experience has earned him acclaim. Though writing is his passion, jack also enjoys hiking, cooking and reading historical fiction in his free time. With an eye for detail and knack for storytelling, he continues making his mark at the forefront of journalism.
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