Smotrich: Gantz stabbing troops in the back by publicly feuding with Netanyahu

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"

Religious Zionism party leader Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich leads a faction meeting in northern Israel, May 19, 2024. (Ayal Margolin/Flash90)
Religious Zionism party leader Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich leads a faction meeting in northern Israel, May 19, 2024. (Ayal Margolin/Flash90)

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich accuses National Unity leader Benny Gantz of stabbing the troops in the back by publicly feuding with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, alleging that the war cabinet minister sought to weaken the premier ahead of his meeting with US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.

“What Benny Gantz did yesterday is far beyond irresponsible, it really borders on crime,” posts the far-right minister on Facebook.

“When our best warriors and commanders sacrifice themselves and some are killed in the war, he stabs them in the back, weakens them and the war, and basically tells them that they are dying for nothing because the war has been lost. And all this to weaken the prime minister just before the US national security advisor lands here in an attempt to resolve or at least reduce our differences of opinion.”

Sullivan met with Netanyahu on Sunday afternoon.

During a televised press conference on Saturday evening, Gantz issued an ultimatum to Netanyahu, demanding that he commit to an agreed-upon vision for the Gaza conflict that would include stipulating who might rule the territory after Hamas’s defeat, and warning that he would bolt the coalition should this not happen.

Taking issue with Gantz’s statement that “a small minority took over the bridge of the Israeli ship, and is sailing it toward a wall of rocks,” Smotrich asserts that Gantz has sought to “deny the legitimacy of those who think differently than him” by defining them as “bigots.”

“For seven months I bit my lips in the face of Gantz’s illegitimate demand and accepted my exclusion” from the war cabinet in order “to maintain the unity that is so important,” he says — alleging that Gantz had turned on Netanyahu “because of how many mandates he lost in the polls.”

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