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Israel PM Netanyahu condemns Gantz’s visit to the US over Gaza war

March 4, 2024 at 5:53 pm

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) chairs a Cabinet meeting at the Kirya, in Tel Aviv on December 17, 2023 [MENAHEM KAHANA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images]

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has condemned a visit by a key member of his war cabinet to the United States, accentuating the growing cracks within Israel’s leadership amid the ongoing war on the Gaza Strip.

Benny Gantz, former army chief and defence minister who was a political rival to Netanyahu before joining the prime minister’s wartime cabinet following 7 October, is reported to have arrived in the US capital, Washington, today for talks with American officials regarding Israel’s ongoing military operation and siege in Gaza.

According to his National Unity Party, Gantz was scheduled to meet today with US Vice President, Kamala Harris, and National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan, and tomorrow with Secretary of State, Antony Blinken.

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An unnamed Israeli official, cited by the Associated Press news agency, stated that Gantz’s visit is intended to strengthen ties with the US, bolster support for Israel’s war on Gaza and further push for the release of Israeli hostages from the besieged Strip.

Far from being a move to solidify and unify Israel’s wartime leadership, the visit was reportedly condemned by Prime Minister Netanyahu, with another unnamed Israeli official from Netanyahu’s Likud party confirming that Gantz’s trip was planned without the Premier’s authorisation. Netanyahu reportedly had a “tough talk” with Gantz, asserting that the country has “just one prime minister”.

The revelations shed further light on the growing divide amongst the Israeli leadership amid the ongoing offensive on Gaza, with officials and war cabinet members increasingly clashing over how to handle the course of the war, the future of post-war Gaza and the extent of cooperation with the US’s increasing demands to draw down its assault on the besieged Territory and its over two million Palestinian inhabitants.

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