After Benny Gantz’s resignation: Netanyahu dissolves war cabinet

In the future, the Israeli Prime Minister wants to hold small-scale “ad hoc consultations” for decisions important to the war effort. He also wants to limit the influence of his right-wing extremist coalition partners.

After eight months, it’s over: On Sunday evening, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dissolved the so-called war cabinet, as several Israeli media reported on Monday. In the small committee, which previously included Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and opposition politician Benny Gantz, the most important decisions in the war have been made since the Hamas massacre on October 7 – although the cabinet has not been particularly decisive in recent times.

The creation of such a war cabinet was one of Benny Gantz’s key conditions for joining the unity government and supporting his political rival Netanyahu last October. The tactical leadership of the war should take place in a small forum, Gantz demanded – and not in the expanded security cabinet, in which up to fifty ministers, military officers and advisors have a say. The prime minister agreed.

On June 9, however, after much hesitation, Benny Gantz announced his resignation from the war cabinet, thereby causing the unity government to collapse. Since then, the right-wing religious coalition that was formed on December 29, 2022 has been in power again. In this respect, the dissolution of the war cabinet is a logical step, especially since only Netanyahu and his defense minister remain in it. Many observers had expected this decision.

The decision-making processes remain the same

For Netanyahu, domestic political reasons play a role. He wants to limit the already great influence of his hotheaded coalition partners, who openly advocate an occupation of the Gaza Strip and the expulsion of its residents. Shortly after Gantz’s resignation, the right-wing extremist Minister for National Security, Itamar Ben-Gvir, demanded a seat on the committee. Had Netanyahu agreed to this, he would probably have severely limited his own scope for action and at the same time further strained relations with the USA.

On the one hand, the Prime Minister is dependent on the support of the right-wing extremists to keep his coalition alive. On the other hand, he wants to keep them as far away from the levers of power as possible. By dissolving the war cabinet, Netanyahu cannot and does not have to comply with Ben-Gvir’s demands.

Nevertheless, the step is largely symbolic, and there will probably be no concrete changes in the decision-making process for the time being. According to Israeli media reports, Netanyahu and Gallant will in future hold “ad hoc consultations with other relevant officials” on a small scale – i.e. without Ben-Gvir – for decisions important to the war, and then present them to the expanded security cabinet as before. The procedure will therefore remain the same, just without a formal war cabinet.

Tactical pauses for aid deliveries

At the same time, there still seem to be certain coordination problems within the Israeli leadership. On Sunday, for example, the Israeli army announced that it would from now on take a “tactical pause in military activities” along an important road in the southern Gaza Strip between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. every day to facilitate the distribution of aid to the Palestinian population. Ben-Gvir immediately ranted that whoever had decided this was an idiot and should resign from his post.

Netanyahu, who was apparently unaware of the pauses, reportedly told his military adviser that this was unacceptable to him. The army then assured him that there had been no strategic changes and that fighting would continue as planned. The army later said the decision was in line with Netanyahu’s order to improve aid supplies to the Gaza Strip.

By Editor

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