Israel war cabinet split looms as defence minister demands post-war Gaza plan | Israel

A long-simmering division at the heart of Israel’s military cabinet burst into the open with Defense Minister Yoav Galant challenging the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahuto come up with plans for the “day after” the Gaza war and said he would not allow any solution when Israeli military or civilian rule is in the territory.

Gallant’s comments, immediately backed by fellow minister Benny Gantz, plunged Israel’s leadership into a highly public row at the height of the Gaza conflict, which immediately raised speculation about his future in the Israeli government and Netanyahu’s fractured coalition.

In uncompromising remarks Gallant – whose dismissal last year by Netanyahu caused mass protests, political crisis and possible reversal by the prime minister – publicly demanded that Netanyahu outline plans for a “day-after plan” for Gaza.

Galant’s comments provoked an immediate political row, with Netanyahu quickly pushing back with a videotaped statement and a call from far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir for Galant to be replaced.

However, Gallant was supported by fellow senior minister Benny Gantz, a former chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces, who said Gallant had told “the truth.”

At a press conference Wednesday night in Tel Aviv, Gallant said he had asked for an alternative governing body to Hamas and had received no response.

In his remarks, Gallant criticized the lack of any political planning for “the day after.”

Gallant’s comments come after months of tension between the two men and recent reports in Jewish media that senior IDF officers were concerned that the lack of an alternative to Hamas was forcing the IDF to return and fight in areas where they believed Hamas already was defeated, including the northerners Gazawhich saw heavy fighting this week.

“Back on October 7, the military department said it was necessary to work to find an alternative to Hamas,” Gallant said, adding, “The end of the military campaign is a political decision. The day after Hamas will only be achieved by actors who stand in for Hamas. This is primarily Israel’s interest.

Gallant said military planning “has not been brought up for discussion and, even worse, no alternative has been proposed in its place. A military-civilian regime in Gaza is a bad and dangerous alternative for the state of Israel.

“I will not agree to the establishment of a military government in Gaza,” he said, adding that “a civil-military regime in Gaza will become the main effort there and come at the expense of other arenas. We will pay for it in blood and sacrifice – and it will come at a heavy economic price.

Gallant’s comments appeared to be the culmination of growing disillusionment with Netanyahu among Israel’s military leadership.

Gallant added that he would not support a controversial plan to conscription of ultra-Orthodox Jews, appearing to issue a direct challenge to Netanyahu to fire him.

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Responding to Gallant, Netanyahu again ruled out a Palestinian Authority in Gaza while Hamas still exists, adding that the destruction of Hamas must be pursued “without apology.”

Netanyahu said: “After the terrible massacre, I ordered the destruction of Hamas. This is what IS fighters and security forces are fighting for. As long as Hamas exists, no other player will rule Gaza—certainly not the Palestinian Authority.

Ben-Gvir and Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi quickly called for Gallant to be fired from his post.

“Such a defense minister must be replaced in order to achieve the objectives of the war,” Ben-Gvir said, adding: “From [Gallant’s] In terms of perspective, there is no difference between whether Gaza will be controlled by Israeli soldiers or whether Hamas killers will control it. This is the essence of the Defense Secretary’s concept that failed on October 7th and continues to fail now.

Netanyahu will be well aware of the huge political risks of sacking Gallant for a second time after his previous forced ouster.

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