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Benny Gantz’s resignation means an election is unavoidable

Benny Gantz announces his resignation in Tel Aviv last night. Credit: Getty

June 10, 2024 - 10:00am

Benny Gantz’s resignation last night from the Israeli war cabinet had been anticipated for several weeks, and came despite pressure from a cross-section of Israeli society for him to remain in government.

Seen as a source of moderation and competence, Gantz was one of the few secular voices in the coalition established after 7 October. He also helped facilitate support from Western allies who might otherwise have been reluctant to support an administration composed entirely of ultra-religious and far-Right ministers.

Last week he met with Einav Tsengaoker, whose son Matan is among the hostages still in Gaza. A working-class Mizrahi woman, she is the archetypal Likud supporter, but her experiences during the past eight months have turned her decisively against Benjamin Netanyahu and his party. She begged Gantz not to leave, saying she felt she had a much better chance of getting her son back with him in government.

In his resignation speech, Gantz apologised to the families of the hostages, claiming that he shared responsibility for the failure to rescue their loved ones, adding that he had reached his decision with a “heavy heart but a clear head”.

He pointedly attacked Netanyahu, claiming that Bibi was “preventing us from moving forward towards a real victory”, and stating that he had told the Prime Minister to set a deadline for an election. He also called on Defence Minister Yoav Gallant — with whom he is close, despite Gallant being a member of the Likud — to do the right thing and follow suit.

If the resignation was long anticipated, what comes next is much harder to predict. Shorn of Gantz’s National Unity party, the government is now composed of the Likud, two ultra-Orthodox parties and three “national religious” or settler parties. Bibi will be even more dependent on the settlers Itamar Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich — but even he knows that they cannot be allowed to have increased influence in the war cabinet, for both military and diplomatic reasons.

Ben Gvir has already demanded that he take Gantz’s place in the war cabinet. But it is now believed that with Gantz’s departure, Netanyahu will disband the war cabinet and return to a more direct form of government, rather than the more consultative approach he has taken since 7 October.

None of this bodes well for the prosecution of the war, whether that be in terms of Palestinian casualties, the rescue of the remaining hostages, or the destruction of Hamas. But it is interesting that Bibi made so little effort to publicly persuade Gantz to remain in the government, refusing to offer even performative concessions.

This suggests that, as I wrote last week, Netanyahu has accepted an election is unavoidable, that he has effectively given up on achieving his war aims, and is now fully focused on managing the political fallout of his failures. An election may be coming sooner than we think.


David Swift is a historian and author. His next book, Scouse Republic, will be published in 2025.

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T Bone
T Bone
7 days ago

It seems when one operates through the Lens of “Being on the Right Side of History” they can try to actively influence foreign elections by calling for Regime Changes in democratic countries.

If you have to stir up global activism to influence a National Election than you might not be on the side of “Protecting Democracy.”

Last edited 7 days ago by T Bone
Benjamin Greco
Benjamin Greco
7 days ago

I can’t understand Swift’s conclusion, it sounds like wishful thinking. It will take more defections from the government to force an election. If anything, Gantz’s departure will make things worse. The far-right parties will have more control and Netanyahu may expand the war into Lebanon.
The war has turned into a disaster for Israel. After leveling Gaza, they will be forced to leave because of international pressure, or to get the hostages back (if there are any left) and Hamas will regroup. Netanyahu’s policies have led Israel to this ridiculous stalemate where only repeated spasms of violence are possible, but it remains to be seen if the Israeli electorate will choose someone willing to reverse course.
The only way forward is for moderate Arab states and moderate Palestinians (if there are any left) to work with Israel to move toward a two-state solution. This will entail acknowledging Israel’s right to exist, removal of West Bank settlements and Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt helping to contain Hamas and Hezbollah. The chances of this happening are slim, but the alternative is Israel becomes a pariah state and loses US and European support entirely.

El Uro
El Uro
7 days ago
Reply to  Benjamin Greco

This will entail acknowledging Israel’s right to exist, removal of West Bank settlements and Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt helping to contain Hamas and Hezbollah.
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Jerk

Wyatt W
Wyatt W
7 days ago
Reply to  Benjamin Greco

This makes no sense. A two-state solution results in a terrorist nation of Palestine, you said it yourself. How on earth would that help anyone except Iran? Jordan and Egypt want nothing to do with Gaza/West Bank, what makes you think they would help suppress the new terror state?

Benjamin Greco
Benjamin Greco
7 days ago
Reply to  Wyatt W

Eight months of war have shown that the status quo is unsustainable. It was a fantasy to think Hamas could be uprooted. It will be up to the moderate Arab states to ensure that a Palestinian state does not become another terrorist proxy for Iran. Since Hamas and Hezbollah are proxies of Iran, the moderate Arabs have a stake in keeping them sidelined.

Last edited 7 days ago by Benjamin Greco
Benjamin Greco
Benjamin Greco
7 days ago
Reply to  Wyatt W

Eight months of war has convinced me that the status quo is unsustainable. Israel’s reputation is in tatters. It was a fantasy to think that Hamas could be uprooted. It will be up to the moderate Arab states to guarantee a peaceful Palestinian state. Since Hamas and Hezbollah are Iranian proxies, they have a vested interest in seeing them sidelined.

Last edited 7 days ago by Benjamin Greco
James Twigg
James Twigg
5 days ago
Reply to  Benjamin Greco

You’re living in a fantasy world. Israel has it’s back against the wall and the majority of them know this to be true in their gut. The only way out is to destroy Hamas.

Martin M
Martin M
7 days ago
Reply to  Benjamin Greco

Whatever the merits of what you propose, it’s not going to happen with Netanyahu in power.