Centrist Israeli minister Benny Gantz dramatically quits Netanyahu cabinet citing lack of plan to end Gaza war

Centrist Israeli minister Benny Gantz dramatically quits Netanyahu cabinet citing lack of plan to end Gaza war

Benny Gantz, a member of Israel’s three-person war cabinet, announced his resignation on Sunday, arguing prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made “total victory impossible” in Gaza and should put the return of an estimated 120 hostages “above political survival.”

“Netanyahu prevents us from moving forward to a real victory [in Gaza],” Gantz said in a televised statement Sunday, calling the choice a “complex and painful decision” leaving him with a “heavy heart.”

He also called for early elections to “establish a government that will win the trust of the people and be able to face challenges.”

The Israeli prime minister called on Gantz to remain in the emergency coalition.

“This is the time for unity and not for division. We must remain united within ourselves in the face of the great tasks before us,” he wrote, originally in Hebrew, on X. “I call on Benny Gantz - do not leave the emergency government. Don’t give up on unity.”

In May, Gantz, a centrist former military leader and opposition leader, threatened to resign by June 8 unless Netanyahu put forward a new plan for ending the war, returning the hostages, unseating Hamas and establishing peace and security in Gaza with Palestinian and international cooperation.

He briefly delayed an announcement on his plans, originally set for Saturday, after Israel rescued four hostages from Hamas in a dramatic operation that’s estimated to have killed more than 270 Palestinians.

The resignation does not affect Netanyahu’s governing coalition, which retains 64 of the 120 seats in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.

However, the decision leaves the war cabinet with no members of an opposition party.

Both Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant are members of the right-wing Likud.

Netanyahu is under increasing domestic pressure to end the war.

Tens of thousands of Israeli’s have been filling the streets for regular protests, calling for the immediate return of hostages and a ceasefire.

Members of his right-wing coalition, however, have threatened to pull out of his government if Netanyahu accepts a ceasefire proposal publically touted by the White House, a three-stage agreement including a ceasefire, a prisoner swap, and the pullback of some Israeli military forces in Gaza.