Gantz announces he is leaving coalition, says Netanyahu preventing ‘true victory’

Sam Sokol is the Times of Israel's political correspondent. He was previously a reporter for the Jerusalem Post, Jewish Telegraphic Agency and Haaretz. He is the author of "Putin’s Hybrid War and the Jews"

Benny Gantz delivers remarks to the media on June 9, 2024. (screen capture)
Benny Gantz delivers remarks to the media on June 9, 2024. (screen capture)

Declaring that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is “preventing us from reaching true victory,” National Unity chairman Benny Gantz says that his party is pulling out of the government, making good on an ultimatum he issued last month.

His party joined the coalition following October 7 for the sake of the country, “even though we knew it was a bad government; we did it because we knew it was a bad government,” he says. “The people needed unity and support.”

But as the months have passed, “fateful, strategic decisions have been pushed aside because of political considerations,” he says.

The reality facing Israel “is not simple” and the [military] campaign will take years,” he warns. “I won’t promise you easy and rapid victory.”

The people of Israel deserve more than “empty promises,” he continues, stating what he believes constitute the elements of an eventually attainable “true victory”:

“True victory places the return of the hostages ahead of surviving in power…, combines military success with diplomatic and civilian initiative…, means destroying Hamas and replacing it…, brings the residents of the  north safely home.”

“True victory is to solidify a regional alliance against Iran, led by the US, together with the entire West,” he adds. “True victory is to change national priorities and widen the circle of service,” he says, referring to the coalition’s insistence on maintaining widespread ultra-Orthodox military exemptions.

“Unfortunately, Netanyahu prevents us from reaching true victory,” he says.

“So we’re today leaving the unity government,” he announces, saying he is doing so “with a heavy heart” but certain that it is the right move.

“We are reporting for duty today in the campaign for the destiny of the State of Israel for generations ahead,” he declares.

The departure of Gantz and his National Unity party reduces the Netanyahu-led coalition to its original five parties — right-wing Likud, far-right Religious Zionism and Otzma Yehudit, and ultra-Orthodox Shas and United Torah Judaism. They hold a total of 64 seats in the 120-member Knesset, and therefore the loss of Gantz’s eight-strong party does not deprive the coalition of its parliamentary majority.

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