Netanyahu maintains his coalition despite the pressures imposed on his leadership

Netanyahu maintains his coalition despite the pressures imposed on his leadership

The families of the hostages catch fire. The number of soldiers killed is increasing every day; Frustration with his leadership in the White House is growing, and disagreements are beginning to emerge within the ranks of the national unity government over strategy in Gaza. About 110 days after Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the start of the military operation to destroy Hamas for its October 7 massacre, the ground has begun to shift again under the feet of the Israeli Prime Minister, but so far without anything foreshadowing the possibility of a political truce granted by Israel. The attack must be broken. Most Israelis continue to support the offensive and the national unity government remains intact. None of his political rivals have shown signs of wanting to jump ship, and until they do, the war could continue indefinitely.


Until “total victory”

This appears to be the goal of Netanyahu, who continues to insist that the bloodshed in Gaza will not stop until Israel achieves “complete victory” over Hamas. Not only because his stated aims for the war remain beyond the reach of his forces, but because his multiple political and judicial problems could hasten the day when the war ends. From resuming protests against his leadership to the possibility of early elections or being forced to testify in the criminal trial on corruption charges he faces. For Merav Zonszin, an Israeli analyst at the International Crisis Group, “the strange circumstance is that no one trusts Netanyahu, but everyone believes in this war.” According to a recent poll conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute, only 15% of Israelis want the prime minister to remain in power when the bombs stop.

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For now, his political opponents do not seem to be in a hurry to break the coalition either, aware that any false move could cost them dearly in the face of citizens traumatized by the horrors of October 7, thirsty for revenge and reluctant to retaliate. Return to the status quo before the war. But internal disagreements have become increasingly evident, stemming primarily from differences of opinion about the priorities of the conflict. The extreme right only wants to hear about eliminating Hamas and destroying Gaza, as a first step to expelling the largest number of Palestinians from the Strip and repopulating it with Jewish settlements. Just a few days ago, Homeland Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, one of his main standard-bearers, warned Netanyahu that if the war ended prematurely “there will be no government.”


On the other side, there are those who want to give priority to the release of about 130 hostages who remain in the Strip. An area in which there is Benny Gantz, Netanyahu's main political rival, who has seen his support in opinion polls triple since he entered government. In the same week, Lieutenant Gadi Eisenkot, also part of the war cabinet and former chief of the General Staff, deviated from the official line by saying that the hostages could only be released if there was a ceasefire.

More and more people believe that the two goals are incompatible. This is what former Mossad chief Tamir Pardo said on Friday, when he said that those who bet on achieving both things at the same time are “blatantly lying.” Conflicting interests within the Cabinet force Netanyahu to strike a balance. “If he ends up accepting a more generous deal than necessary to release the hostages, the parties to his right will likely withdraw from the government,” says Menachem Hoffnung. “But if he doesn’t, Gantz may be the one to jump the boat.” Professor of Political Science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem

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