Israel war cabinet minister could quit govt on Saturday

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Israel war cabinet minister could quit govt on Saturday

Israel’s war cabinet member Benny Gantz said Friday he will hold a press conference on Saturday, with Israeli media reporting he was likely to announce his departure from the government.

Gantz said last month he would resign from the war cabinet if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not approve a post-war plan for the Gaza Strip by June 8.

Gantz’s office said he would give a statement to the media at 8:40 pm (1740 GMT) on Saturday in Ramat Gan, a suburb of Tel Aviv.

His centrist National Union Party submitted a bill last week to dissolve the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, and hold an early election.

Gantz is seen as a favourite to form a coalition in the event that Netanyahu’s government is brought down and early elections are called.

Netanyahu is under pressure from far-right coalition partners, who have threatened to quit the government if he goes ahead with a hostage release deal outlined by US President Joe Biden.

Gantz said this week that returning hostages from Gaza was a “priority”.

The war was sparked by Hamas’s October 7 attack, which resulted in the deaths of 1,194 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.

Militants also took 251 hostages, 120 of whom remain in Gaza, including 41 the army says are dead.

Israel’s retaliatory military offensive has killed at least 36,731 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.