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Israeli War Cabinet member says he’ll quit government June 8 unless new war plan is adopted

Benny Gantzcentrist member of Israel’s three-member war cabinet, threatened Saturday to resign from the government if it does not adopt a new plan in three weeks to the war in Gazaa decision that would make Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu more dependent on his far-right allies.

His announcement deepens divisions within Israeli leaders more than seven months after the start of a war in which it has yet to achieve its stated objectives of dismantling Hamas and returning the numerous hostages kidnapped during the October 7 attack.

Gantz presented a six-point plan that includes return of dozens of hostages, end Hamas rule, demilitarize the Gaza Strip and establish an international administration of civil affairs. It also supports efforts to normalize relations with Saudi Arabia.

He says that if it is not adopted by June 8, he will leave the government. “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.

Gantz, a popular politician and longtime political rival of Netanyahu, joins his coalition and the War Cabinet at the start of the war.

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz speaks on November 18, 2022.

Michael Varaklas / AP

The departure of the former military chief of staff and defense minister would leave Netanyahu even more indebted to his far-right allies who have taken a hard line in negotiations over a ceasefire and the release of hostages, and who believe that Israel should occupy Gaza and rebuild the Jewish community. colonies there.

Gantz spoke days after Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, the third member of the war cabinet, openly said he had repeatedly begged the cabinet to decide on a deal. post-war vision for Gaza this would see the creation of a new Palestinian civilian leadership.

Netanyahu is under increasing pressure on several fronts. His government’s hardliners want military offensive on Gaza southernmost town of Rafah to move forward with the aim of crushing Hamas. Their main ally, the United States and others, have warned against an offensive against a city where more than half of Gaza’s population 2.3 million people had taken refuge – hundreds of thousands have now fled – and threatened reduce support facing the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

US national security advisor Jake Sullivan arrived in Saudi Arabia on Sunday, where he was received by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Reuters reported. He is also scheduled to travel to Israel this weekend and meet with Netanyahu, who has said Israel will stand “alone” if necessary.

Last week, the White House revealed that it had held back a shipment of weapons to Israel over concerns that the weapons could be used in a ground attack in Rafah. President Biden also told CNN in an interview that if the Israelis “enter Rafah”, then “I am not providing the weapons that have historically been used to confront Rafah”.

However, earlier this week, two congressional sources confirmed to CBS News that the Biden administration informed Congress of its intention to transfer $1 billion in weapons to Israel.

This money comes from a $95 billion foreign aid bill passed last month, which provides military aid to Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan.

Israel says IDF discovered bodies of three hostages in Gaza

Many Israelis, distressed by the hostages and accusing Netanyahu of putting political interests above all else, want a deal to end the fighting and release them. There was further frustration on Friday when the army said its troops in Gaza had found the bodies of three hostages killed by Hamas during the October 7 attack.

The Israeli army announced on Saturday that it had recovered the body of a fourth hostage, Ron Benjamin. According to the Israel Defense Forces, Benjamin was killed in the October 7 attack and his body was transported to Gaza by Hamas militants.

Benjamin, 53, leaves behind a wife and two children, according to campaign group Hostages and Missing Families Forum.

The latest discussions in continuation of a ceasefire, negotiated by Qatar, the United States and Egypt, did not bring much. A vision beyond war is also uncertain.

The war began after the Hamas attack on southern Israel on October 7, which killed 1,200 people and took 250 others hostage. Israel says there are now 128 hostages still held in Gaza.

The Israeli offensive has killed more more than 35,000 Palestinians in Gaza, according to local health officials, while hundreds more have been killed in the Occupied West Bank.

News Source :
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