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Netanyahu dissolves War Cabinet after Benny Gantz departure, officials say

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has dissolved the influential war cabinet that oversaw the fighting in Gaza, a government spokesman said Monday, days later. a key element of the bolted body of the government due to its frustration with the Israeli leader’s handling of the war.

This decision was widely expected following the departure of Benny Gantz, a centrist former military leader. Gantz’s absence from the government increases Netanyahu’s dependence on his ultranationalist allies, who are opposed to a ceasefire. This could pose an additional challenge to already fragile negotiations to end the eight-month war in Gaza.

Government officials have said Netanyahu will hold smaller forums on sensitive war-related issues, including with his security cabinet, which includes far-right government partners who oppose it. ceasefire agreements and expressed support for the reoccupation of Gaza.

The War Cabinet was formed early in the war, when Gantz, then the head of an opposition party and a rival of Netanyahu, joined the coalition in a show of unity after the October 7 attack on the south of Israel by Hamas. He demanded that a small decision-making body lead the war, aiming to sideline far-right members of Netanyahu’s government. It was made up of three members: Gantz, Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

THE move to abandon the war cabinet comes as Israel faces more crucial decisions.

Israel and Hamas are considering the latest ceasefire proposal in exchange for the release of hostages taken by Hamas during its attack. Israeli troops remain bogged down in the Gaza Strip, fighting in the southern town of Rafah and against pockets of resurgent Hamas elsewhere, in addition to a dramatic escalation last week on the northern border with Lebanon.

AP correspondent Charles de Ledesma reports on the volatile situation along the Lebanese-Israeli border.

After launching hundreds of rockets and drones toward Israel in some of the most intense barrages of the conflict, Hezbollah sharply reduced the number of projectiles fired toward northern Israel on Sunday and Monday.

The lull continued even after Israeli military officials said they had killed a key member of Hezbollah’s rocket and missile department, Mohammed Ayoub, in a drone attack Monday morning. The Israeli military said it spotted only two missiles fired from Lebanon on Monday and that they did not enter Israeli territory. In the last 48 hours there have only been six launches, against more than 200 THURSDAY.

The lull could be due to the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha which began on Sunday morning, as well as the visit of Amos Hochstein, senior adviser to US President Joe Biden. Hochstein is in Israel to discuss the volatile situation along the Lebanese-Israeli border. He is expected to be in Beirut on Tuesday.

The United States has been trying to ease tensions along the border, and Hochstein has visited the region several times in recent months. Hezbollah began attacking Israel almost immediately after the outbreak of war between Israel and Hamas, and daily firefights have been commonplace since then. In recent weeks, trade has intensified, with fires breaking out on both sides of the border.

Netanyahu has played a balancing act throughout the war, weighing pressure from Israel’s main ally, the United States, and growing global opposition to the fighting, as well as that of his government partners, first. including Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir.

Both have threatened to overthrow the government if Israel moves forward with a ceasefire deal. The latest proposal is part of the Biden administration’s most concentrated effort to help end the war. For now, progress on a deal appears to have stalled.

Critics say Netanyahu’s wartime decision-making was influenced by his government’s ultranationalists and his desire to stay in power. Netanyahu denies the accusations and says he has the country’s best interests in mind.

Gantz’s departure, while not posing a direct threat to Netanyahu’s regime, has shaken Israeli politics at a sensitive time. THE former popular military leader is considered a statesman who strengthened Israel’s credibility with its international partners at a time when Israel finds itself most isolated. Gantz is now leader of an opposition party in Parliament.

Gantz’s decision also led to another resignation. Former army chief and party member Gadi Eisenkot left the war cabinet, where he had observer status.

Netanyahu’s government is Israel’s most religious and nationalist. In Israel’s strained parliamentary system, Netanyahu relies on a group of small parties to help him keep his government afloat. Without support from Gantz’s party, Netanyahu would have to be even more beholden to his far-right allies.

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