Gantz claps back at PM for dawdling: Rafah op would’ve happened months ago if you listened to me

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

The war of words between Benny Gantz and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues, with Gantz issuing a response to the premier’s reaction to his war cabinet minister’s speech earlier in the night.

“If the prime minister had listened to Gantz,” says the former defense ministers and chief of staff’s office, “we would have gone into Rafah months ago and finished the mission. We must finish it and create the necessary conditions for that.”

Gantz was responding to three questions Netanyahu issued after a blistering speech in which Gantz called for a drastic shift in the direction of the war by June 8.

Gantz says that the Palestinian Authority should not rule Gaza, but other Palestinians can, with the backing of Arab states and the US. “The prime minister should deal with this and not torpedo these efforts,” he says.

Responding to Netanyahu’s question about whether he would support the creation of a Palestinian state as part of a normalization deal with the Saudis, Gantz says that it is not even a Saudi demand, and he doesn’t intend to back such a state. Gantz also attacks Netanyahu for supporting a Palestinian state in the past.

If Netanyahu values the unity government, says Gantz’s office, he must take the necessary decisions, “and not drag his feet out of fear of the extremists in his government.”

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