STORY: :Benny Gantz quitting Israel's emergency government could leave Netanyahu reliant on hardliners, says an analyst

::June 9, 2024

::Laura Blumenfeld, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies

"Gantz was a moderate voice in the cabinet, in the inner war cabinet that Netanyahu was leading, and with him gone it kind of tugs all the decisions to the right and the more extreme. The second problem is that Netanyahu's success of the hostage rescue is more likely to dig in and to say it is better to shoot now and negotiate later, 'let's follow my lead rather than Gantz's.' The third problem is there is very little trust between government officials from the United States, and Netanyahu and as Secretary of State Kissinger said many years ago, trust is the currency of diplomacy."

"That kind of flirtation with Gantz leaves some insecurities on Netanyahu's part and might lead to opportunities to press Netanyahu for concessions. It definitely gives us some kind of leverage. Finally, Netanyahu ran on the title of Mr. Security. He promised peace through strength, he delivered war through weakness. Gantz is a figure of security that national security leadership is lining up behind Gantz saying with him gone it is finally time for some accountability for what happened on October 7th, and early elections. If the United States uses that to their advantage there's an opportunity to pressure Netanyahu - if you want power, if you want to keep your coalition you need to make some concessions. Netanyahu is trying to appear large and in charge now, if he wants to do that he might have to start playing by the United State's rules, rather than by his own personal ambition, his political game which clearly has been driving him until now."

The departure of Gantz's centrist party will not pose an immediate threat to the government. But it could have a serious impact nonetheless, leaving Netanyahu reliant on hardliners, with no end in sight to the Gaza war and a possible escalation in fighting with Lebanese Hezbollah.

With Gantz gone, Netanyahu would lose the backing of a centrist bloc that has helped broaden support for the government in Israel and abroad, at a time of increasing diplomatic and domestic pressure eight months into the Gaza war.