Israeli Government Scenarios for the Day After the War

The Israeli government coalition has been in a state of crisis since its formation in December 2022. This ongoing multifaceted crisis stems from the disparate components of the government coalition, as well as its domestic and foreign policies. In addition to this are the new crises produced by the war in Gaza. This paper addresses the Israeli government’s scenarios for the day after the war.

  • Release Date – Jan 19, 2024

Israel’s war management cabinet was formed four days after Palestinian factions attacked the Gaza Envelope on October 7, 2023. According to Israeli law, the war cabinet is linked to the government’s declaration of war, and it will remain in place until the war is officially declared to have ceased. Its members include Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and Benny Gantz, a former Defense minister and the head of the opposition Israeli National Unity bloc, as well as two observer members: Minister of Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer and Minister without Portfolio Gadi Eisenkot, a member of the National Unity bloc who served as chief of staff for the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). More than 100 days after the war in Gaza began, its interactions and repercussions have caused havoc in the government coalition and the war cabinet .

Pre-War: A Government in Crisis

The Israeli government coalition has been in a state of crisis since its formation in December 2022. This crisis is multifaceted and stems from the nature of the coalition’s components, as well as its domestic and foreign policies. The coalition is led by Netanyahu, the leader of the Likud party, and includes two religious Zionist parties: Shas and United Torah Judaism. These parties’ policies have led to a crisis on multiple levels.

First, the White House has reservations about the presence of religious Zionist parties in the coalition, and it refused a request for a meeting between President Joe Biden and Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, a member of the Religious Zionist Party. The White House also delayed any meeting between Biden and Netanyahu until it could be held on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City rather than inside the White House. Moreover, the Biden administration has also publicly opposed the coalition’s proposed judicial reforms.

Second, the proposed judicial reforms have created a crisis within Israeli society, with clashes between supporters and opponents. The crisis reached a peak in the weeks leading up to the Gaza war, with widespread protests and about half of the soldiers in an Israeli army reserve battalion refusing to serve.


Third, the policies of extremist National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir contributed to raising the level of tension within the Arab community inside Israel—about 2 million Palestinians are Israeli citizens—through his policies related to Judaizing the Galilee and the Negev regions, on the one hand, and the policies of his ministry’s police and border guards in Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque, on the other. In addition, Ben-Gvir has instituted punitive and repressive policies against Palestinians held prisoner in Israel and the West Bank, and he has armed of his ministry of thousands of Jewish settlers with modern assault weapons.

Fourth, Smotrich, who serves as both Finance minister and the minister responsible for the Israeli Civil Administration in the West Bank, elevated the levels of tension by supporting settlers attacking Palestinian citizens, in addition to enacting policies of land confiscation and legislation that work to Judaize most areas of the West Bank classified as under full Israeli law.

Fifth, Netanyahu’s positions towards the Palestinian Authority (PA) exacerbated the political stalemate between the two and contributed to financially weakening the PA and its ability to provide security protection to the northern areas of the West Bank, especially in Jenin.

In light of this, many independent analysts have concluded that the right-wing government coalition will not complete its full term in government, and that the chances of changing that coalition have become higher than ever before. However, the war postponed those possibilities with the declaration of a state of emergency and the subsequent formation of a war cabinet. If no sudden changes occur during the war that affect the war cabinet and the government coalition, then as soon as the war ends and the war cabinet is dissolved, the existing government coalition will find itself facing a set of complex crises produced by the war that question the lack of assessment and vigilance by the security and intelligence agencies in Israel, as well as the speed of the army’s response in emergency situations.

Meanwhile, criticism on the coalition’s failure to achieve its declared objectives in the war is increasing inside Israel. Moreover, Hamas is still active and effective in Gaza, and no Israeli prisoners have been released through military action. On the contrary, Israel, according to its own official statements, has paid a heavy price.

  • The number of Israeli soldiers killed has reached 520 as of January 10, and more than 130 Israeli prisoners are still being held in Gaza.
  • The number of Israeli citizens displaced from the southern and northern regions has exceeded 500,000.
  • The military cost of the war for Israel is about $220 million per day, according to The Washington Post.
  • In addition to the near-total halt in Israel’s lucrative tourism sector, other economic sectors are suffering a significant decline due to a severe shortage of workers and the mobilization of reserve forces, especially in the construction, agriculture, and technology sectors.

Battles Within the War Cabinet

There have been signs of disagreement within the war cabinet since it was formed, with its members from differing political parties exchanging accusations about Israel’s failure to prevent attacks by Palestinian factions in the Gaza Envelope. Disputes have also developed over military plans and prisoner exchange deals. These disputes have been made public in the conduct of the war cabinet’s press conferences. For instance, Gallant and Gantz have repeatedly refused to participate in any press conference that includes Netanyahu. In addition to a dispute between Netanyahu and Gallant after the prime minister prevented the heads of the intelligence apparatus—Mossad Director David Barnea and Israeli Security Agency (also known as Shabak or Shin Bet) Director Ronen Bar—from attending war cabinet meetings, there were also disputes affecting the war cabinet between Netanyahu and Gantz over Israel’s plans for the next day of the war as well as Gantz’s participation in multi-city demonstrations on January 14 that demanded the government conclude a deal for the release of Israeli prisoners.


At the same time, disagreements between Netanyahu and Gallant highlight the crisis between military and political officials, which has its roots in the government’s judicial reform program. Netanyahu fired Gallant as his Defense minister on March 26 for publicly calling for a halt to government’s the plan to overhaul the judiciary, before later retracting the dismissal. These disagreements have continued even in the war period. The decision of IDF Chief of the General Staff Herzi Halevi to form a military security committee headed by former IDF Chief of the General Staff Shaul Mofaz to investigate the October 7 attacks led to a sharp disagreement with a number of government ministers, and led to Halevi’s absence from government meetings. Previously, there was a verbal dispute between Halevi and Ben-Gvir over the army’s decision to discipline soldiers who appeared to be performing Jewish prayers in a mosque in Jenin.

On the other hand, the opposition led by Yair Lapid has intensified its antagonism toward the government coalition and the war cabinet. On January 9, Lapid declared that the coalition “is not a unity government. This is not an emergency government. They are not saving the state of Israel—they are saving Netanyahu.” He called on National Unity members Gantz, Eisenkot, and Gideon Sa’ar to leave the coalition.

Meanwhile, Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the Yisrael Beiteinu opposition party, accused Netanyahu of conspiring against the chief of staff. On January 8, Lieberman said that “the war government talks about unity while what we have seen in recent days is heavy gunfire between Netanyahu, Gallant, and Gantz.”

Most Likely Post-War Government Scenarios

The review of the scenarios for the Israeli government is associated with a set of variables, the most important of which are the aforementioned disagreements, the course of the war and its developments, the American position on the war, the nature of the development of Washington’s relations with the Israeli government and the war cabinet, and the changes in international positions that have begun to shift away from their initial support for the war. These variables combined put forward a number of scenarios.

Formation of a National Unity Government

If Netanyahu responds to the pressure of the war cabinet, the opposition led by Lapid, the U.S. administration, and the military, it could lead to abandoning the existing governing coalition and forming a national unity government under the pretext of the need for a political entity capable of shouldering its responsibilities and duties in a period described as fateful in Israel history.

In this scenario, Netanyahu may remain prime minister but with alliances that do not include religious Zionist parties, either by pushing them to resign or expelling them, in order to avoid going towards the option of early elections, which would only enhance the opposition’s chances to win, as polls indicate, like the one conducted by the Israeli Channel 13 in late December 2023, about the orientations of Israeli voters at the time of the poll, the opposition parties will win 71 seats, compared to the current coalition parties that will see their seats decline from 64 to 45, and while the government needs 61 deputies in the Knesset to be granted confidence, that means the opposition has a wide chance of forming the government if elections are held.

There is a possibility that this scenario will be realized during the war, and the new government may be the prelude to stopping it. The realization of it is supported by the course of the fighting and the increase in Israeli economic and military losses in conjunction with the growing internal and external pressures calling for a halt to the war, and the American desire for a more cooperative Israeli government with political flexibility.

Vote of No Confidence in the Government Coalition

If Netanyahu does not respond to internal pressures and ket sticking to on the government coalition, the opposition may coordinate with some Knesset members, especially those opposed to Netanyahu within the ruling Likud party, to vote of no confidence in the government coalition. Reports have indicated that the opposition is holding secret talks with Likud members to form an alternative government, whose mission would be to end the war and return the Israeli prisoners through negotiations. However, these talks stalled because the opposition required that the alternative government remain in power for two years, without the possibility of being overthrown or holding early elections. These reports were preceded by statements by opposition leader Yair Lapid on January 9, 2024, about his party’s willingness to vote in favor of changing the government to be headed either by Yuli Edelstein of Likud, Gantz, or Gadi Eisenkot of the Israeli National Unity bloc. On January 17, Israeli Channel 12 reported that the Labor Party intends to submit a proposal to withdraw confidence from the government due to its inability to return the hostages. The realization of this scenario is strengthened if Gantz resigns from the war cabinet.

Integration of the National Unity bloc into the government coalition

This scenario is linked to the end of the war and the dissolution of the war cabinet. During this time, the Israeli National Unity bloc led by Gantz could become a party in the government coalition alongside the other parties. This would strengthen the chances of the government coalition to remain in the post-war phase, and it would provide the government with a comfortable majority in the Knesset even if Likud experienced a rebellion from some of its members. It would also prevent the government from being voted out of confidence or moving to early elections.

However, this scenario is the least likely to be realized. Netanyahu and his government will be faced with the repercussions of the Supreme Court’s decision at the beginning of January to annul the “reasonableness clause” from the judicial reform bill, which was approved by the Knesset in March 2023, and the court’s decision on January 3 to postpone the application of the “prime minister’s immunity” law, which limits the possibilities of removing the prime minister until after the following elections. This enables the attorney general to demand that Netanyahu be tried on corruption charges related to bribery, fraud, and breach of trust. This puts Netanyahu before difficult choices, the most likely of which is to move to early elections, which invites the possibility of his leaving political life, being subjected to trial, and going to prison.

Moving to Early Elections

The end of the war with the dissolution of the war cabinet, the departure of the Israeli National Unity bloc led by Gantz from the government coalition, the growing opposition to Netanyahu within the Likud party, and the possibility of the attorney general demanding that Netanyahu be tried on corruption charges could push the opposition to pass a motion of no confidence in the government in the Knesset without the availability of an alternative coalition. This would lead to early elections, which polls in Israel indicate would not be in Netanyahu’s favor. This scenario is the most likely in the post-war phase, and it would be greatly strengthened if the war ends without clear results or success that the government can present to the people of Israel.


Policy Analysis Team