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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Netanyahu dissolves war cabinet after 2 key members quit

Children receiving food aid in Jabaliya, in the nothern Gaza Strip. (The New York Times)

By Patrick Kingsley and Cassandra Vinograd

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has dissolved his war Cabinet, an Israeli official said Monday, a move that had been widely expected after the departures of two key members prompted demands from far-right politicians for representation in the influential group that made key decisions about the conflict in the Gaza Strip.

The two members, Benny Gantz and Gadi Eisenkot, quit Netanyahu’s small war Cabinet last week amid disagreements over the direction of the war. The men, both former military chiefs, had been seen as voices of moderation in the five-member body, which was formed in October after the Hamas-led assault on Israel.

The Israeli official suggested that Netanyahu’s decision to disband the body — which was communicated to ministers at a wider Cabinet meeting Sunday — was largely symbolic given that Gantz and Eisenkot had already resigned.

Since their departures, discussions about the war have been driven by Netanyahu in conjunction with his defense minister, Yoav Gallant, and close advisers, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

Dissolving the war Cabinet formalizes that process. It may also defuse calls from Netanyahu’s far-right coalition partners who might have hoped to fill the places of Gantz and Eisenkot.

According to Eisenkot, the influence of one of those far-right leaders, Itamar Ben-Gvir, the minister of national security, had long loomed over the discussions in the war Cabinet. After Gantz resigned, Ben-Gvir immediately demanded to join the group, writing on the social platform X that it was “about time to take brave decisions, achieve true deterrence, and bring true safety to the residents of the south, north, and all of Israel.”

Israeli news outlets reported Monday that Netanyahu’s move to disband the war Cabinet was a direct response to that demand.

For now, big decisions about the war in Gaza will still be put to a separate and broader security Cabinet. That group includes Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, the finance minister. Both have argued strongly that Israel’s military offensive in Gaza must continue until Hamas is destroyed.

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