Netanyahu faces political crisis after he dissolves war cabinet

Following the recent spree of resignations of its key members, Benjamin Netanyahu dissolved the war cabinet. But can Mr Netanyahu’s government survive the rising discontent against it?

Benjamin Netanyahu dissolves the war cabinet following key resignations and mounting protests. Why is he facing an immense political crisis?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dissolved his war cabinet on Monday following the resignations of Benny Gantz and Gadi Eizenkot

After Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dissolved his war cabinet on Monday following the withdrawal of two of its key members—Benny Gantz and Gadi Eizenkot, former chiefs of staff of the Israel Defence Force (IDF)—questions have been raised over the longevity of his right-wing government itself. Can Mr Netanyahu save his government as Israel experiences popular demonstrations against the mismanagement of the military affairs in Gaza, with the Opposition calling for fresh elections?

The resignation of the key members and sharp criticisms along with multiple protests across Israel came over Mr Netanyahu’s “mishandling” of the war and inability to bring back the hostages. The prime minister formed the war cabinet, which the centre-right opposition figures Mr Gantz and Mr Eizenkot joined, soon after Hamas’s Operation Al-Aqsa Flood on October 7th last year.

Why did Netanyahu dissolve his war cabinet?

Mr Gantz cited Mr Netanyahu’s lack of a comprehensive post-war strategy for Gaza for his resignation. He vocally condemned the prime minister’s governance, accusing him of prioritising “political considerations” over national security.

Earlier, Mr Gantz issued a deadline of June 8th for Mr Netanyahu to come up with a post-war strategic plan for Gaza, which the prime minister ridiculed as an “ultimatum” to the government than to Palestinian resistance Hamas.

Being critical of Mr Netanyahu’s handling of the war, he commented, “this is not how a war is run” emphasising the security of the residents during the war. 

Angry with the present government, people have also been demanding early elections where Mr Gantz is expected to contest against  Mr Netanyahu. 

Mr Eizenkot, another important cabinet member, resigned subsequently echoing the same thoughts and condemnations. The move has further isolated Mr Netanyahu within his government. 

Mr Eizenkot shared his resignation letter on his X post (formerly Twitter) iterating that Mr Netanyahu’s now dissolved war cabinet’s activities are leading to “significant damage to Israel and its ability to handle the threats on the horizon.” He also said, “He has no alternative but to resign.”

Opposition and the public’s condemnation

Mr Netanyahu has been facing sharp criticism from the opposition as well as the Israeli citizens. Tens of thousands of Israelis have been protesting against the government, demanding a ceasefire and the return of hostages from Hamas’s captivity.

Yair Lapid, an opposition leader, has been lambasting the prime minister over his governance and mishandling of the situation. He slammed the prime minister for blaming the army, citizens and the demonstrators and warned him to “take responsibility or go home.”

Mr Lapid goes on to attack Mr Netanyahu’s  government by calling it a “crazy, dysfunctional, violent government” that “cannot take care of the north, who cannot take care of the south.”

Merav Michaeli, another opposition leader, has also been demanding Mr Netanyahu’s resignation. Condemning the actions of the coalition government, she wrote in her X post, “They talk so much about total victory, let them open their eyes, everything has failed.”

She sharply attacked the prime minister accusing him “to submit to the disturbances on which his rule rests at the expense of the state of Israel, which is increasingly falling into a serious and dangerous strategic situation.” 

The opposition has repeated the return of the hostages and a lasting peace after eight months of insecurity and loss of lives. 

Mr Gantz, defending the demonstrators who have been demanding the return of their people, security and stability, posted on X, “A demonstration against the government is not a demonstration against IDF soldiers.” 

After such backlash from his people, will Mr Netanyahu change his delusional slogan of “total victory” and reflect sensibility and responsibility or will he exhibit “insanity”? 

Netanyahu’s response

Despite the mounting condemnations and protests that have been isolating him, Mr Netanyahu continues to reiterate his commitment to not stop the war until Hamas is “completely destroyed”. 

“We are committed to total victory. We do not want to—and cannot—abandon the arena..” Mr Netanyahu said in an event on June 9th, the same day Mr Gantz resigned from the war cabinet. 

After the resignation of Mr Gantz, Mr Netanyahu posted on X, “Israel is in an existential war on several fronts.” He prompted “this is not the time to abandon the campaign- it is the time to join forces.” 

He also said in a statement, urging people to support him, “Citizens of Israel, do not let anyone distract you from one clear and simple fact: Despite the heavy and unsettling price, we must cling to the goals of the war.”

Global pressure 

Mr Netanyahu’s long-standing ally, the US has been closely observing the situation. 

Mr Netanyahu, subtly showing desperation for support told US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, “It’s inconceivable that in the past few months, the administration has been withholding weapons and ammunitions to Israel.” 

Amid the international community’s warnings to Israel and calls for a permanent ceasefire, the US proposed a ceasefire plan that includes an exchange of prisoners between Israel and Hamas and the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip.

Mr Netanhayu seems to be stuck as his far-right coalition partners, like Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir, threatened that if he accepts the Gaza ceasefire plan, they will withdraw their support, bruising his political presence further. 

The ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Israel “to immediately suspend its military operations in and against Gaza” and the subsequent lack of support from world leaders have put Israel in an isolating position. 

Netanyahu’s controversial image

The IDF’s aggression on Gaza, killing 37,396 civilians since October, and the inability to efficiently bring back hostages have resulted in global isolation and condemnation of Israel. 

Mr Netanyahu, pictured as a strong defender of Israel, has been seen as a “weak” and “maniac” by his own people. Opposition leaders, critics and analysts also argue that the prime minister has been putting his personal gains and power over national security. His “corrupt government” has instilled division and polarisation within the state which has fueled widespread protests against him. The man the US has been flaunting as a staunch leader is struggling to remain in power and is desperately seeking support. 

The resignation of key members leading Mr Netanyahu to dissolve his war cabinet, along with multiple demonstrations against the prime minister have made his position increasingly volatile. With such political turmoil domestically as well as international pressure, that is indicative of greater challenges for Mr Netanyahu, what is going to be his regime’s fate? It is to see whether he can tackle these challenges and sustain his rule. 

A journalist interested in national and international news. She aspires to highlight the common people's concerns through human interest stories and deep-dive articles on geopolitics.

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