Benny Gantz Quits Israeli War Cabinet, Citing Netanyahu’s ‘Empty Promises’

Amir Levy/Getty Images
Amir Levy/Getty Images

Benny Gantz, a retired general, centrist politician and key member of Israel’s war cabinet, resigned on Sunday, accusing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of mishandling the war in Gaza.

Gantz, who turned 65 on Sunday, announced his National Unity party’s departure from the government “with a heavy heart” in a televised address. Citing Netanyahu’s “empty promises,” he said the PM was “preventing us from advancing to the real victory.”

Gantz’s departure is not expected to threaten Netanyahu’s grip on power, as the government will still enjoy a slim majority in parliament. But it will further isolate the 74-year-old prime minister, who has thus far refused to consider a ceasefire plan backed by the U.S.

In his Sunday address, Gantz appealed to Defense Minister Yoav Gallant to not only “say the right thing, but do the right thing,” suggesting he should also resign. Gallant previously indicated he would exit the government if Israel chose to reoccupy Gaza.

Gantz also called on Netanyahu to “set an agreed election date” in the fall. Cautioning that Israel needed to establish a government able to “win the trust of the people and be able to face challenges,” he pleaded, “Don’t let our people be torn apart.”

Netanyahu chided his former minister, saying in a post on X it was “not the time to abandon the campaign—this is the time to join forces.”

The PM also sought to assure Israelis that his government would “continue until victory,” which he defined as the release of all remaining hostages and the “elimination” of Hamas.

A popular opposition figure, Gantz and his party joined Netanyahu’s coalition after the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas, a move widely seen as a show of unity in a moment of unprecedented crisis.

Gantz's cabinet presence and more moderate policy stances, including an endorsement of the Palestinian Authority’s involvement in the governance of postwar Gaza, have aided the Israeli government’s international standing.

But long-simmering tensions with Netanyahu have also been dragged into public view and last month, Gantz issued an ultimatum.

Warning he would leave the government by June 8 if Netanyahu dragged “the country into an abyss,” Gantz demanded a new day-after plan for Gaza.

Israeli Forces Rescue Four Hostages Alive in Raid on Gaza

On Saturday evening, a planned Gantz news conference was canceled in the wake of news that four Israeli hostages had been rescued in Gaza hours earlier, the Associated Press reported.

Gaza health officials said the Israeli operation resulted in the deaths of 274 Palestinians, including children. Hundreds more were wounded.

Of 250 people kidnapped on Oct. 7, roughly 120 remain in Gaza, with 43 confirmed dead.

On Sunday, Gantz apologized to the families of hostages, saying the government had “failed” to bring most home.

Around 1,200 people were killed in the Oct. 7 attacks. More than 600 members of the Israeli military have been killed since.

More than 37,000 Palestinians have been killed, most of them civilians, according to Gaza’s health ministry.

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