Gantz Resigns Under US Pressure

How Biden Is Using Gantz As His Trojan Horse To Impose US Demands and Insure Israel’s Defeat in Gaza

6/12/24 By Tim Buck
Fotet.org

 

Israel’s War Cabinet member Benny Gantz resigned under pressure from Biden and Blinken and took his eight-member faction out of the Netanyahu government this past weekend. With his departure, the war cabinet formed last October after he joined forces with Netanyahu will be dissolved.

What precipitated Gantz’s departure? How will his decision affect the trajectory of the war?

Two forces are responsible for Gantz’s move: the Biden administration and the far-left, anti-government political campaigners in Israel popularly known as the Kaplan force. Gantz joined the government in response to U.S. pressure and a call from the far left to undermine the government from within. He is leaving due to pressure from both.

As Politico reported on Thursday, Biden’s main focus these days is political to end the war as quickly as possible. To achieve this goal, he is applying pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to capitulate to Hamas’s demands for a permanent ceasefire.

“The president and his aides are working to make sure Netanyahu is feeling the squeeze from all sides,” the magazine reported.

The report explained that Biden and his team are working not only with international actors but with “Israeli citizens and Netanyahu’s political allies and foes alike.”

The main Israeli citizens in question are the deep-pocketed far-left political campaigners that have been carrying out protests, riots and other direct-action campaigns since 2019 to oust Netanyahu and the political religious right from power. Since Netanyahu returned in December 2022, U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken and other senior officials have regularly met with leaders of the Kaplan force in Israel and in Washington.

Although Gantz’s departure is significant, it isn’t a surprise. When he announced his agreement to serve in a national emergency government days after Hamas’s Oct. 7 invasion and slaughter, most Israelis were relieved. At a moment of national peril, Israelis believed it was imperative to abandon the domestic rancor that had characterized life in Israel during the Kaplan force’s 10-month insurrection that preceded Hamas’s invasion.

Unity Government During War

Over its history, Israel has formed a “unity government” during war time.

Netanyahu didn’t need Gantz to form a government. His coalition has a healthy majority of 64 seats. Although a show of unity is what the public yearned for, it was clear from the outset that Gantz’s participation in the government wouldn’t yield a national consensus.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid refused to join the government because he said that he wouldn’t sit in a government with the Religious Zionism Party or the Jewish Strength Party led by Finance Minister Betzalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, respectively. Gantz demanded the establishment of the war cabinet and insisted that Smotrich and Ben-Gvir be barred from participating in its deliberations.

In short, Gantz and the left agreed to share power with Netanyahu but refused to accept the legitimacy of his coalition or voters.

Misunderstood the Political Situation in Israel

Netanyahu brought Gantz into his government after Oct. 7 because he hoped that Gantz’s presence in the war cabinet would diminish U.S. pressure for Israel to end the war without defeating Hamas and without successfully diminishing the strategic threat to the north from Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon.

In the event, Gantz did not deliver the goods. Netanyahu’s government was demonized by the United States, the United Nations, Europe, and the Western and Israeli media as the “most extreme government in Israeli history,” before Gantz joined the government, and it was demonized as the “most extreme government in Israeli history,” by the same forces after Gantz joined the government.

Even worse, pressure has risen to unprecedented heights with Gantz in the government. As Politico reported, in recent months, Biden and his team have been mobilizing all relevant international actors to trap Netanyahu with a “vice grip” that will leave him no option other than to bow to their goal of ending the war without Israeli victory.

To this end, the US administration has directly and indirectly greenlighted an international campaign of delegitimization and demonization of Israel from the United Nations to the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court which is unprecedented. The goal of these actions is self-evident: to make Netanyahu and his government end their quest for victory over Hamas and stand down in the face of insufferable Hezbollah assaults on northern Israel.

If that weren’t enough, in keeping with the joint expectations of the Biden administration and the Kaplan force, Gantz has used his presence in the war cabinet not to give a boost to Israel’s war effort but to serve as a drag on that effort. Ceaseless leaks of war cabinet proceedings to the media by Gantz and his partner Gadi Eizenkot have undermined the war effort by demoralizing the public and casting doubt on Israel’s capacity to win. Moreover, Gantz and Eizenkot have effectively served as U.S. proxies in the war cabinet, repeatedly blocking or delaying major planned offensives in keeping with U.S. wishes.

Since Gantz’s presence in the government brought neither national unity nor political stability—or even any international support—his absence is not expected to cause major shocks to Israel’s political stability or international standing. It is also unlikely to achieve the Biden administration’s goal of overthrowing the government or forcing Netanyahu to bow to Biden’s pressure campaign to end the war.

So why is the administration acting as it does? Apparently, it has misunderstood the political situation in Israel. Since the Netanyahu government entered office, the administration has refused to meet with the “extreme members” of his coalition Ben-Gvir and Smotrich. They have refused to speak with Netanyahu voters, opting instead to sanction them and demonize them. While boycotting the majority of Israelis and demonizing their elected representatives, the Biden administration has operated in an echo chamber that hears only the Israeli left, which comprises somewhere between 20% to 30% of Israelis.

The left’s dismal standing is borne out by consistent polling of Israelis since Oct. 7. Those polls have found that 70% of Israelis support Netanyahu’s goal of total victory. A poll this week by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs reflected the results of successive polls about support for the so-called “two-state solution,” which requires the establishment of a Palestinian state. Some 69% of Israelis oppose Palestinian statehood—79% of Israeli Jews oppose it.

Blinken has just arrived in Israel and is scheduled to meet with Netanyahu. If experience is a guide, he can be expected to meet with Gantz, Lapid and other left-wing politicians. He will probably also meet again with leaders of the Kaplan force, which is set to stage mass protests in Jerusalem and besiege the Knesset to pressure lawmakers to bring down the government beginning in the middle of the week.

Blinken will be beset by a reality he hadn’t anticipated. Far from destabilizing Israel or increasing pressure on Netanyahu, the secretary of state will find a stable coalition no longer constrained by Gantz’s veto on military action. The political leverage that Blinken and Biden held against Netanyahu will be gone.

Given the political realities on the ground and the actual role Gantz played in the government since joining in October, it is clear that the implications of his departure are twofold. First, the government will be more stable without him than it was with him. And second, without Gantz’s veto, Netanyahu and his ministers will be free to pursue a course to victory in the war.