Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu disbands Israeli war cabinet

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to the media following talks at the Chancellery on March 16^ 2023 in Berlin^ Germany.

Officials tell The Associated Press and CNN that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has dissolved his war cabinet, which was responsible for key decisions relating to the Israel-Hamas conflict. The war cabinet, set up five days after the Hamas-led terrorist attacks against Israel on October 7, had five members: Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, opposition leader Benny Gantz, and two “observers,” Ron Dermer and Gadi Eisenkot. Israeli official said that decision-making will now move back to the government’s main security cabinet, adding that Netanyahu “will hold smaller forums on sensitive matters.”

Netanyahu’s decision comes just over a week after opposition leader Benny Gantz withdrew from the cabinet, stating that the prime minister was making “total victory impossible.” In announcing his resignation, Gantz said the government needs to put the return of the hostages seized Oct. 7 by Hamas “above political survival.” Gantz said in announcing his resignation: “Months after the October disaster, the situation in the country and in the decision-making cabinet has changed. Netanyahu and his partners have turned unity into a void call who has no cover. Fateful strategic decisions are met with hesitancy and procrastination due to political considerations. Netanyahu is preventing us from progressing to a real victory. That is why we are leaving the emergency government today with a heavy heart, but with a whole heart.”

Netanyahu’s wartime decision-making has been criticized, with those saying he has been influenced by ultranationalists in his government who oppose a deal that would bring about a cease-fire in exchange for the release of hostages. Netanyahu has denied the accusation, saying he has the country’s best interests in mind.

More than 37,000 people have been killed in Gaza since Israel launched its offensive in the enclave following Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks, in which some 1,200 people were killed and around 250 others were taken hostage, according to Israeli officials.

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