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Israel centrist minister Gantz quits Netanyahu government

Israel centrist minister Gantz quits Netanyahu government
Israel's War Cabinet member Benny Gantz arrives to attend a meeting with Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Ben Cardin (not pictured), on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, USA, 05 March 2024. Israel's War Cabinet member Benny Gantz has met with lawmakers on Capitol Hill and members of the Biden administration at the White House during his trip to the United States capital. Gantz received a rebuke from Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu for his current trip to Washington. EPA-EFE/MICHAEL REYNOLDS

JERUSALEM, June 9 (Reuters) - Israeli minister Benny Gantz announced his resignation from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's emergency government on Sunday, withdrawing the only centrist power in the embattled leader's far-right coalition, amid a months-long war in Gaza.

By Maayan Lubell

Netanyahu issued a brief statement calling on Gantz not to “abandon the front” but his departure will not endanger the parliamentary majority of 64 seats in the 120-seat Knesset held by the ruling right-wing coalition.

“Netanyahu is preventing us from advancing toward true victory. That is why we are leaving the emergency government today, with a heavy heart but with full confidence,” Gantz said at a televised news conference.

Gantz’s resignation had been expected ever since he presented the conservative prime minister with a June 8 deadline to come up with a clear day-after strategy for Gaza, where Israel has been pressing a devastating military offensive against the ruling Palestinian militant group Hamas.

His departure means that Netanyahu will lose the backing of a centrist bloc that has helped broaden support for the government in Israel and abroad, at a time of increasing diplomatic and domestic pressure eight months into the Gaza war.

Gantz had originally been expected to announce his resignation on Saturday but pushed back the statement following the dramatic rescue of four hostages Israeli forces.

(Reporting by Maayan Lubell; editing by James Mackenzie, William Maclean)

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