Netanyahu Faces Mounting Pressure Over Gaza Post-War Plans

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is under increasing pressure from both his war cabinet and the United States to formulate post-war plans for Gaza, even as the conflict with Hamas continues unabated

by Sededin Dedovic
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Netanyahu Faces Mounting Pressure Over Gaza Post-War Plans
© Amir Levy / Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is under increasing pressure from his war cabinet and the United States, his closest ally, to prepare post-war plans for Gaza, even as the war with Hamas shows no signs of ending.

War cabinet member Benny Gantz, Netanyahu's main political rival, announced last night that he would leave the government on June 8 if it does not formulate a new war plan that includes international, Arab, and Palestinian administration to handle civil affairs in Gaza, reports Assossiated Press.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, the third member of the war cabinet, also called this week for a plan to manage Gaza, stating he would not agree for Israel to govern the Palestinian territory. Meanwhile, the U.S. has called for the revitalization of the Palestinian Authority, which governs parts of the other Palestinian territory, the occupied West Bank, with support from Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries before the possible creation of a Palestinian state.

U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan is expected to insist on these plans during his visit to Israel today. Netanyahu has so far rejected all these proposals, but Gantz's ultimatum could limit his maneuvering space, according to the Associated Press.

The Israeli leader has ruled out any role for the Palestinian Authority in Gaza, stating he intends to transfer civil responsibilities to local Palestinians not connected to either the Authority or Hamas. However, he has also said it is impossible to prepare any plan until Hamas is defeated, as the group has threatened anyone cooperating with Israel.

Netanyahu's government opposes Palestinian statehood. Netanyahu stated that the emergency government is crucial for conducting the war and expects Gantz to explain his position to the public. If Gantz leaves, Netanyahu's obligations to his ultra-right-wing allies, including National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, would increase, as they could easily bring down the government if their demands are not met.

Critics accuse Netanyahu of prolonging the war for his own political survival.

Benny Gantz© Amir Levy / Getty Images

Gantz, who brought his centrist party into the government after Palestinian extremists attacked southern Israel on October 7, warned Netanyahu not to choose the path of fanatics and lead the entire nation into the abyss.

Netanyahu denies these accusations, claiming he is focused on defeating Hamas and that elections would distract from war efforts. Israeli media report growing dissatisfaction within the country's security establishment over the course of the war, and public opinion polls show that Netanyahu would be ousted if elections were held, likely replaced by Gantz.

This would end Netanyahu's long career and expose him to trial on corruption charges. "If Netanyahu chooses to lead the nation into the abyss, we will withdraw from the government, turn to the people, and form a government that can deliver a true victory," Gantz said.

Yesterday, during a press conference, Gantz announced that his opposition party, National Unity, would leave the coalition government if a post-war governance plan for Gaza is not consolidated and approved by June 8. The press conference was held just hours after the Israel Defense Forces said they found the body of another hostage, Ron Benjamin (53), who was cycling along the Gaza border when Hamas launched its attack on October 7.

His body was found alongside three other hostages - Itzhak Gellerenter, Shani Louk, and Amit Buskile - whose remains were discovered yesterday. "Personal and political reasons have started to infiltrate the holiest parts of Israel's defense," Gantz told reporters.

"The Netanyahu of ten years ago would do the right thing. Are you ready today to do the right and patriotic thing? The Israeli people are watching you," he added. "You must choose between Zionism and cynicism, between unity and factionalism, between responsibility and lawlessness - and between victory and disaster." His departure would leave Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, even more dependent on far-right allies who have taken a hard line in ceasefire negotiations and hostage releases.

The war cabinet was formed just days after the Hamas attack on October 7. Gantz (64), a general and former defense minister, joined the government as a minister without portfolio. His party is actually an opposition party, and currently, polls show it far ahead of Netanyahu's Likud party.

The Israeli Prime Minister's office dismissed Benny Gantz's threat to leave the government, stating that his ultimatum for a war plan against Hamas would harm Israel. "The conditions set by Benny Gantz are empty words whose meaning is clear: the end of the war and the defeat of Israel, the abandonment of most hostages, leaving Hamas intact, and the establishment of a Palestinian state," the statement from Netanyahu's office said.

"Prime Minister Netanyahu believes that the emergency government is crucial for achieving all war goals, including the return of all our hostages, and expects Gantz to clarify his views on these issues to the public," the statement said.

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