Benjamin Netanyahu's Government Faces Collapse Amid Rising Rebellions

Internal Dissent and External Pressures Threaten Netanyahu’s Government

by Faruk Imamovic
Benjamin Netanyahu's Government Faces Collapse Amid Rising Rebellions
© Getty Images/Sean Gallup

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is grappling with a cascade of internal dissent and external pressures, threatening to unravel his emergency war cabinet and potentially trigger new elections. Eight months into Israel's conflict with Gaza, Netanyahu’s coalition is teetering on the edge of collapse due to a series of standoffs, schisms, and ultimatums from within his government.

Internal Strife and Political Turmoil

Within the unity government, formed shortly after the militant attacks on October 7, Netanyahu contends with mounting rebellions from both allies and opponents. Conservative hard-liners have openly vowed to withdraw from the government if Netanyahu proceeds with a ceasefire deal promoted by President Biden. Meanwhile, religious parties have threatened to pull their support over court rulings that could end military service exemptions for ultra-Orthodox youth.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, a member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, has demanded that Netanyahu publicly commit to avoiding a permanent Israeli occupation of Gaza. Opposition leader Benny Gantz, another key figure in the war cabinet, has given Netanyahu a deadline to present a long-term strategic plan for Gaza, warning that failure to do so would prompt his resignation from the war cabinet and potentially lead his party to exit the government.

Political scientist Gayil Talshir from Hebrew University noted, “The coalition is beginning to collapse in on itself, even if Gantz’s move doesn’t directly end it.”

External Pressures and Public Sentiment

Externally, Netanyahu faces intense pressure from the Israeli public to secure the release of hostages and from the Biden administration to negotiate a ceasefire with Hamas. The situation became more volatile after President Biden revealed a proposal from Israel's war cabinet for a six-week pause in fighting and a prisoner exchange. Netanyahu has distanced himself from the proposal, facing fierce opposition from his far-right partners who have threatened to dismantle the coalition if the deal goes through.

“If the government accepts this surrender offer, we will not be part of it and will work to replace the failed leadership,” declared Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich. National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir also expressed his readiness to dissolve the government over the issue.

Netanyahu is trying to delay any breakup for as long as possible, fearing that public anger over his failure to prevent the October 7 attacks and to free more hostages could lead to an electoral wipeout. Some suggest he wants to hold on until the U.S. elections in November, hoping that former President Donald Trump might replace Biden in the White House.

Internal Dissent and External Pressures Threaten Netanyahu’s Government
Internal Dissent and External Pressures Threaten Netanyahu’s Government© Getty Images/Amir Levy

Netanyahu's Strategic Maneuvering

Despite the turmoil, Netanyahu remains confident in his political skills. An anonymous Israeli official indicated that Netanyahu is prepared to leverage the situation to his advantage, hoping to delay any governmental collapse until the U.S. elections in November, where he anticipates potential changes in American leadership could favor his position.

“He may not excel at military strategy, but he does excel at political maneuvering,” the official said. “You can’t count him out.”

Recent opinion polls show a slight improvement in Netanyahu's standing, with a narrow lead over Gantz. Although he remains unpopular overall, this marginal lead provides him with some leverage. U.S. officials remain skeptical that Gantz’s ultimatum alone will force Netanyahu’s hand, but they acknowledge that his exit could exacerbate the fractious dynamics within the war cabinet.

The Future of Netanyahu's Leadership

U.S. officials observing the situation have reported frequent infighting among Israeli politicians, with Netanyahu’s former national security adviser, Yaakov Amidror, disputing claims of dysfunction. Amidror asserts that the war cabinet has achieved consensus on major issues, including the offensive in southern Gaza, and that Gantz’s ultimatum is politically motivated rather than strategy-driven.

“They will name another war cabinet,” Amidror commented. “What he is doing is not about the war — it’s about politics.”

Israeli analysts believe that Gantz’s ultimatum could prompt other rivals within Netanyahu’s party to challenge his leadership. A recent poll by Hebrew University revealed that a significant portion of Likud voters are prepared to withhold their support if Netanyahu leads the party into new elections. Talshir predicts that a right-wing candidate other than Netanyahu would likely have more appeal than center-right figures such as Gantz or opposition leader Yair Lapid.

“It’s not going to be Netanyahu versus Gantz,” Talshir said. “It’s going to be someone else representing the right wing.”

Likud’s Internal Dynamics

Likud operatives are closely monitoring the situation, particularly for signs that Gallant might make a direct bid for leadership. Gallant’s office has remained silent on the matter, but speculation continues to grow about his ambitions.

“The key to bringing Bibi down is inside of Likud,” said the Israeli official, using Netanyahu’s nickname. “And the key to Likud is Gallant.”

As the political landscape in Israel remains tumultuous, Netanyahu’s ability to navigate the internal and external pressures will determine the future of his leadership and the stability of his government.

Benjamin Netanyahu