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Israel's Gantz threatens to quit unless post-war Gaza plan approved

Gantz adds pressure on Netanyahu days after defence minister vowed to resign if no day-after plan is formed
Israeli war cabinet member Benny Gantz arrives at the US State Department in Washington DC on 5 March 2024 (AFP)

Israeli war cabinet minister Benny Gantz said on Saturday that he would resign from the body unless Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved a day-after plan for the Gaza Strip.

Gantz, Netanyahu's main political opponent, demanded that the government adopt a six-point plan for the war in Gaza in three weeks' time.

"The war cabinet must formulate and approve by June 8 an action plan that will lead to the realisation of six strategic goals of national importance... [or] we will be forced to resign from the government," Gantz said, referring to his party, in a televised address directed at Netanyahu.

Gantz's proposed plan would include establishing a temporary US-European-Arab-Palestinian system of civil administration for Gaza while Israel retains security control.

If the minister, a retired top Israeli general in the three-member war cabinet, withdraws his party from the emergency coalition, it would leave Netanyahu more dependent on his far-right allies. 

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Netanyahu appears outflanked in his own inner war cabinet, where he, Gantz and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant alone have votes. On Wednesday, Gallant demanded clarity on post-war plans that would include a Palestinian administration in Gaza. 

Gallant also threatened to resign the cabinet if Netanyahu doesn’t rule out an Israeli government in Gaza and a military reoccupation of the strip after the war.

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"Personal and political considerations have begun to penetrate the Holy of Holies of Israel's national security," Gantz said. 

Netanyahu's critics accuse the prime minister of seeking to prolong the war to avoid new elections, as he faces charges of fraud, bribery and breach of trust.

If the prime minister were to acquiesce to these demands, he would risk angering ultra-nationalist parties in his coalition that have called for Gaza to be annexed and settled, which could topple him. 

Netanyahu is also facing pressure from Israelis demanding a deal that would return the captives as well as calls for new elections.

Thousands of Israelis held demonstrations on Saturday evening across Israel calling for early elections.

The prime minister slammed Gantz's demands as "washed-up words whose meaning is clear: the end of the war and a defeat for Israel, the abandoning of most of the hostages, leaving Hamas intact and the establishment of a Palestinian state".

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