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Netanyahu disbands war cabinet after centrist party’s exit, returning Israel to pre-Oct. 7 governance

Israel’s government has returned to its shape before the war — consisting of a mix of right-wing and religious parties

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has disbanded the small war cabinet he established at the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war, reverting to Israel’s pre-Oct. 7 governing system.

Netanyahu established the war cabinet days after Hamas’ invasion of Israel when former Defense Minister Benny Gantz, a centrist rival, joined an emergency wartime government. The war cabinet had three voting members — Netanyahu, Gantz and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant — along with observers, and was tasked with making key decisions about Israel’s military campaign in Gaza along with its battles on other borders.

Gantz’s party left the coalition last week, and he stepped down from the war cabinet, amid disagreements with Netanyahu about plans for Gaza after the war.

The exit of Gantz’s party means that the government has returned to its shape before the war — consisting of a mix of right-wing and religious parties, including hardline ministers. Some of those figures, such as far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, have pressed to join the war cabinet following Gantz’s resignation.

Now, instead of the war cabinet, the fighting will be overseen by Netanyahu and Gallant along with the security cabinet, a small group of ministers that has traditionally made decisions about Israeli military policy.

Ben-Gvir and another far-right minister, Bezalel Smotrich, are members of that group. Both are demanding an unfettered extension of the war, against popular opinion which prefers a ceasefire deal that would return Israeli hostages, and have called for Israel to establish settlements in Gaza, which Netanyahu has thus far rejected.

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