Israel's Netanyahu declares wartime 'emergency government' with Benny Gantz

Israel's Netanyahu declares wartime 'emergency government' with Benny Gantz
Benjamin Netanyahu has agreed to form a "war cabinet" with opposition party leader Benny Gantz - which will include Defence Minister Yoav Gallant - for the duration of Israel's war on Gaza.
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Netanyahu's wartime 'emergency government' will include Benny Gantz and Yoav Gallant [Getty]

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Wednesday an "emergency government" with an opposition party leader, Benny Gantz, for the duration of the country's war on Gaza.

"Following a meeting held today, the two agreed on establishing an emergency government and war cabinet," said a joint statement by the premier and Gantz, a former defence minister and army chief.

The three-member "war cabinet" would include Netanyahu, Gantz and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant.

Gallant was recently came under fire following his vow to impose a "complete siege" on Gaza, cutting access to water, food and fuel on Monday.

The Palestinian envoy to the UN Riyad Mansour called his comments "nothing short of genocidal".

Gadi Eisenkot, also a former army chief from Gantz's party, and Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer will serve as observers, according to the statement.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid has not joined his former ally Gantz, but the statement said a seat would be "reserved" for him in the war cabinet.

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Netanyahu's extreme-right and ultra-Orthodox Jewish allies will remain in government.

Since December 2022, Netanyahu has presided over the most far-right government in Israel's history.

Far-right cabinet members including Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, have expressed racist and xenophobic rhetoric against Palestinians.

The premier has agreed to freeze his government's judicial overhaul, which had triggered mass street protests - the biggest in Israel's history.

"During the war, no bills or government-sponsored motions that are unrelated to the war would be advanced," the statement said.

Gantz last served in a Netanyahu administration in 2020-2021 under a rotation agreement that was meant to see him take the helm for the second half of the government's tenure, but early elections had been called before he was to become prime minister.

Israel has killed at least 1,055 Palestinians in its fiercest assaults on Gaza in 75 years, wounding thousands more as well as displacing over a quarter of million Gazans.

Meanwhile, Hamas' cross-border assault has killed at least 1,200 Israelis as fighting continues.