May 30, 2024

Israel war cabinet member’s party submits bill seeking early election

Israel war cabinet member's party submits bill seeking early election

Palestinians flee with their belongings as smoke rises in the background, in the area of Tel al-Sultan in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on May 30, 2024 Photo: Eyad BABA / AFP

The centrist party of Israel war cabinet minister Benny Gantz said Thursday it had submitted a bill to dissolve parliament and hold an early election.

“The head of the National Union Party, Pnina Tamano-Shata, has put forward a bill to dissolve the 25th Knesset. This follows the request of party leader Minister Benny Gantz to move forward in broad agreement to an election before October, a year since the massacre,” the party said in a statement.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party countered.

Likud said: “The dissolution of the unity government is a reward for (Hamas Gaza leader Yahya) Sinwar, a capitulation to international pressure and a fatal blow to efforts to free our hostages.”

An election is not scheduled before the final quarter of 2026. And the Likud has previously warned that holding one earlier would harm the army’s fight against Hamas in Gaza.

Post-war Gaza plan

On May 18, Gantz threatened to resign from the war cabinet unless Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved a post-war plan for the Gaza Strip.

“The war cabinet must formulate and approve by June 8 an action plan that will lead to the realisation of six strategic goals of national importance.. (or) we will be forced to resign from the government,” Gantz said, referring to his party, in a televised address directed at Netanyahu.

Gantz said the six goals included toppling Hamas, ensuring Israeli security control over the Palestinian territory, and bringing home Israeli hostages.

“Along with maintaining Israeli security control, establish an American, European, Arab, and Palestinian administration that will manage civil affairs in the Gaza Strip and lay the foundation for a future alternative that is not Hamas or (Palestinian president Mahmud) Abbas.”

He also urged the normalisation of ties with Saudi Arabia “as part of an overall move that will create an alliance with the free world and the Arab world against Iran and its affiliates”.

Netanyahu has also come under criticism from Defence Minister Yoav Gallant for failing to rule out an Israeli occupation of Gaza after the war.

The Gaza war was sparked by Hamas’s October 7 attack on southern Israel. It resulted in the deaths of 1,189 people, mostly civilians. This was according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.

Militants also took 252 hostages, 121 of whom remain in Gaza. These include 37 the army says are dead.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed at least 36,224 people in Gaza, mostly civilians, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.

Vanguard News