Israel’s Emergency Government Is Set to Break Up This Weekend

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Israel’s Emergency Government Is Set to Break Up This Weekend

You may not know it due to the incredibly biased nature of most mainstream American coverage over the genocide of Gaza, but Israel is currently ruled by an emergency government. After Hamas’s October 7th attacks, opposition leader Benny Gantz joined with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant to create a three-man war cabinet who has led their decision-making since that fateful day.

That cabinet is now set to break up, with Netanyahu failing to meet Gantz’s ultimatum from last month. The main issue is a disagreement over bringing back the hostages and Israel’s post-war vision of Gaza, as Netanyahu pushes for a military occupation while Gantz wants an international ruling body in Palestine. Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth obtained an Israeli government document that stated military control of the Gaza strip would cost $5.4 billion annually, and the document concluded that “Controlling Gaza means an unprecedented budget crisis.”

Essentially, the central sticking point seems to be that Netanyahu is determined to bankrupt Israel in order to further immiserate Palestinians. Gantz isn’t standing on principle here, but practicality.

Gantz also wants Israel to “adopt a framework for [military/national] service under which all Israelis will serve the state and contribute to the national effort.” Right now, far-right ultra-Orthodox Israelis, who form the vast majority of Netanyahu’s popular support, do not have to serve in the Israeli Defense Forces like the rest of the country does. This has been a source of tension in Israel for some time, but now that they have troops deployed in Gaza at the behest of this non-fighting coalition, this dynamic is rapidly becoming untenable.

Even though post-war Gaza is the major sticking point, Gantz does not necessarily support a Palestinian state, and he certainly does not support the Palestinian Authority who President Joe Biden has said should rule Palestine. “War now, peace later” is a quote Gantz has repeated multiple times.

It’s important to note that the widespread atrocities imposed on Palestine by the Israeli government are not a central part of this dispute. While his allies in the West like Joe Biden like to portray Gantz as some sort of peace-loving internationalist, that just is not how he has presented himself. He supports the assault on Gaza and by all accounts, does not fundamentally oppose much of what Netanyahu is doing, outside of being more amenable to a ceasefire negotiation that includes hostage releases. Joe Biden has been pushing this “Israeli ceasefire plan” that Israel is opposing, and reading between the lines it seems as if he is betting on Gantz’s departure sparking the fragile Bibi coalition to publicly support the plan we are all told they privately support.

Benjamin Netanyahu is deeply unpopular, and we may be witnessing the end-stages of his rule. A staggering 73% of Israelis believe Bibi should resign, and 59% believe he is more concerned with ensuring his political survival than with freeing the hostages or protecting Israeli national security.

Last week, Gantz’s National Unity Party submitted a bill to the Israeli Knesset to dissolve Israeli Parliament and hold elections, and Gadi Eiskenot, a National Unity Party member who is part of the war cabinet, called for early elections to be held between September and December this year. Those same polls revealing immense opposition to Netanyahu indicate that the National Unity Party stands to benefit most, as they suggest the party would increase their current seats in the Knesset from eight to thirty-eight.

Gantz has long been positioned as the successor to Netanyahu, and the expectation is that once he resigns at 8:40 local time tomorrow (1:40 Eastern Time), anti-Netanyahu protests will erupt across Israel. They already swept the country last March after Netanyahu fired Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and he was forced to rehire him to stem the outrage. There were also massive protests against Israel’s authoritarian in 2020-2021 after Netanyahu was charged with crimes he would later be convicted over. There is little reason to believe that his assumed successor leaving his government in protest would create a different dynamic than we have already observed.

We are likely watching the beginning of the end for Benjamin Netanyahu’s rule in Israel. What happens after Gantz resigns tomorrow will have a large say in what direction this distressed society heads. It’s clear as day that Netanyahu and his shrinking far-right coalition cannot lead the country forever, and should new elections be held, Israel may finally rid itself of its kakistocracy choking the life out of the country. That said, Gantz’s statements to date have made it clear that as far as Gazans trapped under Israel’s relentless and illegal bombing campaign are concerned, who is in power in Israel does not really matter.

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