As Benny Gantz expected to quit Israeli government, Ben-Gvir seeks greater influence

As Benny Gantz expected to quit Israeli government, Ben-Gvir seeks greater influence
Ben-Gvir issued comments welcoming Gantz's upcoming departure from the government, saying he needed to regain his status as a leading coalition figure.
2 min read
09 June, 2024
Gantz was expected to make the announcement yesterday but cancelled following the rescue of four Israeli captives in Gaza [Getty]

Israeli war cabinet member Benny Gantz is again expected to quit the government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after cancelling a press conference yesterday.

According to reports in Israeli media, Gantz is expected to resign from the government during a press conference at 8pm (6pm GMT) in Kfar Maccabiah.

Gantz had initially cancelled a press conference yesterday after four Israeli captives held in Gaza were released in a military operation in Nuseirat Refugee camp that killed 271 Palestinians, according to Gaza's health ministry.

Following the cancellation, Netanyahu implored Gantz to remain in the government, saying, "We must remain united within ourselves in the face of the great tasks before us."

Gantz then responded by saying, "Besides the justified joy of the achievement, it should be remembered that all the challenges that Israel faces remain as they were."

"Therefore, I say to the prime minister and the entire leadership - even today, we must look responsibly at how's right and how we can continue from here," he added.

Earlier in May, Gantz publicly criticised Netanyahu over a number of issues, including a lack of a plan for returning the hostages, destroying Hamas or a vision for who governs post-war Gaza.

In the run-up to the announcement, figures within Israel had called on Gantz to remain in the cabinet to pressure the government to accept a proposed ceasefire-for-captive deal, including Einav Zanguaker, whose son Matan is held captive in Gaza.

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His presence in the government also acted as a counterweight to Netanyahu's far-right coalition partners, who have advocated for the annexation and resettlement of Gaza following the war.

Israel's far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir reportedly welcomed the impending resignation, with the Times of Israel quoting him as saying, "I think their departure [Gantz's party] is important, and I need to return to being a leading force like I was before Gantz entered the government."

The publication also quoted Ben-Gvir as saying his vision is to "conquer Gaza and [go to] war with Hezbollah". 

Although Netanyahu would be reliant on his far-right coalition partners if Gantz leaves, according to Haaretz, Netanyahu is seeking to avoid empowering Ben-Gvir and far-right coalition member Bezalel Smotrich, who is Finance Minister, in being part of security decision-making.

Both have criticised the latest ceasefire proposals that would see the release of Israeli captives in Gaza, with Ben-Gvir threatening to dissolve the government if the latest proposal announced by US President Joe Biden was signed.

Israel's war on Gaza, which is now in its ninth month, has killed 37,084 Palestinians and wounded a further 84,494.