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Israel official says PM dissolves war cabinet

Messenger Desk

Published: 20:53, 17 June 2024

Israel official says PM dissolves war cabinet

Photo : Collected

An Israeli government spokesman on Monday (17 June) said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had dissolved the war cabinet following the resignation earlier this month of centrist leader Benny Gantz.

David Mencer, spokesman at the prime minister's office, told reporters the war cabinet was a "prerequisite" for former army chief and defence minister Gantz to join a unity government.

"So with Mr Gantz leaving government, there is no need for the cabinet. Its duties will be taken over by the security cabinet", a pre-existing body, on matters regarding the war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, he said.

Israeli media said the move, which was not expected to trigger any major policy shift, was meant to counter pressure from far-right politicians seeking a greater say in decision-making.

The war cabinet was formed after Gantz had left the opposition to join Netanyahu's government following Hamas's unprecedented October 7 attack on Israel.

Another member of Gantz' party, also a former military chief, Gadi Eisenkot, had also agreed to join the government on condition that a war cabinet be formed, according to Israeli officials. Eisenkot left the war cabinet along with Gantz.

"It means that the security cabinet will meet more often. The security cabinet is the body responsible for making decisions (related to the war) anyway," said an Israeli official on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the issue.

Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi and Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer, who were all part of the war cabinet, also sit on the security cabinet -- which ratifies decisions regarding the war including truce and hostage release negotiations.

Gantz announced his resignation on June 9 after failing to get Netanyahu to approve a post-war plan for Gaza.

Israeli media reported that Netanyahu dissolved the war cabinet to avoid including far-right coalition members in the sensitive forum, fearing harm to relations with Western allies such as the United States.

Mencer declined to answer when asked if Netanyahu's decision aimed to rebuff his far-right partners and tighten his grip over decision-making.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who are both security cabinet members and opposed to a truce before Hamas is "eliminated", had put pressure on Netanyahu to add them to the war cabinet.

The Hamas attack on southern Israel that triggered the war resulted in the deaths of 1,194 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.

Israel's retaliatory military campaign in Gaza has killed at least 37,347 people, also mostly civilians, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory.

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