Israeli War Cabinet Scenarios Following Gantz’s Resignation Warning

Disputes within Israel’s war cabinet raise several questions about the impact political parties will have on the future of the cabinet, its unity, existence, and, more broadly, on the future of the Israeli government. The war cabinet and the government of Israel have become significantly tied to the war variables in Gaza and the positions of the actors involved, foremost of which is the United States. This ushers in three scenarios for the future of the war cabinet: it will carry on its work, it will dissolve while the coalition government remains, or it will dissolve leading to early elections.

  • Release Date – May 30, 2024

Israeli war cabinet disputes, specifically between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and cabinet minister Benny Gantz, have reached a critical stage. Gantz admonished the cabinet to define a clear national strategy regarding the war in the Gaza Strip by June 8 or to withdraw and “resort to the people to hold parliamentary elections".

This comes at a time when the war is reaching a decisive phase, with Israel’s attempts to invade what it perceives to be the last main stronghold of Hamas in the city of Rafah. In addition, the truce negotiations have come to a dead end amidst continuous Israeli popular mobilization that puts pressure on the war cabinet and the Israeli government to recover the detainees in the Gaza Strip. Lastly, this critical stage comes amid escalating international pressures, especially with the International Court of Justice calling for the immediate cessation of Israel’s invasion of Rafah and the International Criminal Court’s efforts to issue arrest warrants against Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

The Dispute: Phased or Strategic?

 In his statement, Gantz put forward a five-point proposal regarding the war goals and the political vision for a day-one plan after it ends: bring home the hostages; end Hamas’s rule and demilitarize the Gaza Strip; form an “international civilian governance mechanism for Gaza” that includes Palestinians and bring back its displaced northern residents by September; advance normalization with Saudi Arabia; and establish a new framework for Israeli military service.

Netanyahu rejected Gantz’s proposal, considering it an end to the war that portends the defeat of Israel and disproportionally serves the Palestinian side more. Certainly Gantz’s proposal reflects the great division within Israel regarding the priorities of the current stage of the war, especially with the start of the ground invasion of Rafah city. Given that the military operations in Rafah may risk the lives of the Israeli hostages and the expectations that this operation will take a long time to achieve its goals, Gantz, Gadi Eisenkot, a retired IDF chief of staff who serves as minister without portfolio, and the families of the hostages support focusing on the priority of concluding a deal that guarantees the return of the Israeli detainees in the Gaza Strip before protests go deeper or more extreme. Yet the prime minister and the extreme right in his government insist on continuing the war and pressuring Hamas in Rafah as a precondition to recovering the hostages.


However, the disputes cannot be limited to phased priorities only. Rather, they extend to include strategic issues, specifically concerning each party’s vision of day-one after the war. Gantz rejects the presence of a future Israeli military rule in the Gaza Strip and agrees on the presence of a Palestinian civil administration from which Hamas is excluded. War cabinet member and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant agrees with Gantz’s vision and opposes the existence of a long-term Israeli military rule in the Gaza Strip. This is in contrast to Netanyahu, who is considering the option of a long-term Israeli presence in the Gaza Strip, as evidenced by the one-page document “The Day After Hamas” that he presented in February 2024. Approved by the Ministerial Council “Cabinet,” it called for Israeli decisions and authority in the security and civil fields, which includes the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) and the Gaza Strip’s educational and social institutions, in addition to the issue of reconstruction.

Dynamics of the Dispute

Disputes within the war cabinet date back to its formation on October 11, 2023, five days after the Israel-Hamas war began. They are attributed to the gap in the positions of the individual cabinet members even before the war, creating a state of skepticism among its members. These disputes—which varied between foreign relations and local political, security, and social issues—expanded with the war and intensified with the Israeli invasion of Rafah. The disputes were also affected by the relationship between the opposition and the Netanyahu government, popular mobilization, and American and international positions on the war.

Before the war, Israel was divided about how to deal with a set of files, the most important of which were the judicial amendments the government coalition sought to pass despite strong objections from the military establishment and the political opposition. Gallant described the amendments as “touching the national invincibility". The opposition described them as an attempt to “end democracy.” In addition to this is the dispute over a conscription law aimed at exempting the religious (specifically, the Haredim) from military service in the Israeli army, which the Zionist right-wing parties are lobbying to pass. Gantz has hinted that he will withdraw from the cabinet if the Knesset passes the conscription law in its current form.

These disputes expanded after the war, and they have surfaced several times during the eight months of the war on more than one occasion. For example, Gallant and Gantz’s refusal to appear at press conferences alongside Netanyahu; the disagreements over the formation of an investigation committee into the events of October 7; and Gantz’s participation in demonstrations with the families of the hostages. (Gantz complained in February about Netanyahu’s unilateral attempts to make decisions related to negotiation efforts and former IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot hinted at resigning from the war cabinet as an observer due to his disputes with Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who oversees a large portion of the administration of the occupied West Bank, and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir.

Domestic and Foreign Influences

The dispute comes as the war in the Gaza Strip is reaching a highly sensitive stage for Israel, both militarily and with increasing domestic and international pressures for Israel to end the war. Therefore, the deepening of the dispute is driven by varying factors for each party.

Gantz’s actions and his warning to Netanyahu are interpreted in the context of the relationship between the Israeli government and the White House administration reaching a critical juncture. Moreover, Gantz is presenting himself as a balanced leader who has the ability to maintain Israel’s strategic relations with the United States, as evidenced in his March visit to Washington, where he met with the vice president, secretary of state, and national security advisor. In addition, Gantz maintains ties with countries in the region that have relations with Israel. Israeli Channel 14 pointed out that before issuing his latest warning to Netanyahu, Gantz first visited several Arab countries and held secret meetings with their leaders.

On the other hand, the Israeli public and opposition parties are pressuring the government to recover the hostages. The manifestations of protests and activities in the streets of Israel have become almost daily, and their scope expanded when important sectors of the Israeli society, such as the General Federation of Labor and the Employers Organization, joined the protests, thereby increasing the chances that the opposition’s calls for early parliamentary elections will be heeded.

On the other hand, the government coalition maintains its unity and the support of a broad audience of voters. Its war policies relatively align with a wide segment of Israeli society motivated by their reaction to what occurred October 7. This includes the rejection by political forces, especially from the opposition, of the two-state solution; the unification of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip; and the pretense of a Palestinian authority in Gaza. This is evident by the majority vote in the Knesset in February 2024 rejecting the unilateral recognition of the Palestinian state.

War Cabinet Scenarios

Disputes within the war cabinet raise several questions about the future of the cabinet, its unity, existence, and, more broadly, on the future of the Israeli government. The war cabinet and the government of Israel have become significantly related to the war variables in Gaza, as well as to the positions of the actors involved, foremost of which is the United States. This ushers in three possible scenarios for the future of the war cabinet: it will carry on its work, it will dissolve while the coalition government remains, or it will dissolve leading to early elections.


Scenario One: Continuation of the War Cabinet

It is likely that the war cabinet will survive in its current composition. Following Gantz’s warning, the cabinet carried out its tasks, including directing the negotiation team to resume work on a prisoner exchange deal with Hamas and the resumption of the Israeli, American, and Qatari meetings in Paris regarding this issue. This may indicate that Gantz will disregard his withdrawal deadline due to his involvement in current files and priorities. In addition, Gantz’s warning primarily aims to bring about changes in Netanyahu’s policies regarding the war. The revival of prisoner negotiations may indicate Netanyahu’s relative responsiveness to Gantz’s demands since it is in Netanyahu’s interest to calm domestic disputes in light of certain developments, such as the decision of the Court of Justice to stop the attack on Rafah, the prosecutor general of the International Criminal Court requesting the court to issue arrest warrants against Netanyahu and Gallant, increased pressures from the families of the hostages, the Palestinian factions’ announcement of conducting qualitative operations on the ground, and the increase in Israel’s human losses.

Scenario Two: Dissolution of the War Cabinet Without Affecting the Government

Reports by Israeli Channel 13 indicate Netanyahu’s intention to dissolve the war cabinet following Gantz’s warning. This implies that the war cabinet would turn into a ministerial cabinet, which could complicate both how Israel conducts the war and how the war is viewed within Israel, especially since the extreme right parties have a significant influence on decision-making processes within the cabinet, not to mention that they, the extreme right parties, are part of the extensive disputes within the cabinet and among political and military officials.

Supporting this is the fact that the government coalition remains cohesive, given its control over the parliamentary majority with 64 out of 120 seats. This ratio preserves the stability and presence of the Netanyahu government, unless resignations or developments occur. In addition, Netanyahu’s war-related proposals—which he presents as a recipe for success and unity at a national, popular, and official governmental level—are supported by the votes of both the cabinet and Knesset.

Scenario Three: Dissolution of the War Cabinet and Early Elections 

This scenario depends on the extent to which the dissolution of the war cabinet may affect the governing coalition, particularly in light of a set of variables inside Israel powered by the escalation of protests and renewed calls for early elections. The opposition’s attempt to unify its ranks was especially notable when Yair Lapid, leader of the Israeli opposition, Gideon Sa’ar, leader of the New Hope party, and Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the Israel Our Home party, issued a joint statement calling for Gantz to resign after they announced their agreement on a plan to topple the current Israeli government.

The development of disputes among the parliamentary majority arose after Moshe Gafni, a Knesset member from the United Torah Judaism party, threatened to resign over the issue of teachers’ salaries in Haredi education, giving the government a deadline of June 1, 2024.

In fact, it is likely that Gantz’s party will withdraw from the war cabinet, as the united opposition is exerting its best efforts to gain time. On one hand, opinion polls indicate that the opposition candidates will sweep any current parliamentary elections. The latest opinion poll, a May 29 survey by Israel’s Channel 13, concluded that Gantz’s camp would win the largest share of parliamentary seats, totaling 25. On the other hand, there is an attempt to separate the war, which may last a long time, from the call for early elections, especially since the opposition wishes to proceed with early elections before the upcoming November American presidential election, which could give Netanyahu a new momentum, particularly if the winner is Donald Trump.


Policy Analysis Team