Government and army in pieces; Israel is a country in difficulty

Israel on the verge of a nervous breakdown. While news circulates regarding the negotiations between Israel and Hamas for a lasting ceasefire in Gaza mediated by Egypt – the Jerusalem government has not sent its delegates to Cairo because it wants the list of hostages still alive from Hamas, who Hamas refuses to deliver – General Benny Gantz, Prime Minister Netanyahu's political rival who joined the war cabinet after the Hamas attack on October 7, is rehearsing to become the new head of government, with the blessing of the United States.

In fact, he has just landed in Washington for a “private” visit, officially as head of the National Unity party and not as alternate prime minister. A formal ruse so that the general can operate with greater freedom. Waiting for him in the US capital are a series of senior US officials, including two summit meetings: one face-to-face with Vice President Kamala Harris and one with National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, as well as meetings with members of both Congress Democrats and Republicans. That's not all: Gantz should also stop in the United Kingdom, but the news is not confirmed for now.

And it is not because Netanyahu went into a rage, given that the general's move was not previously agreed with the prime minister, who in fact instructed the Israeli embassy in Washington not to assist Benny Gantz in any way, now always more markedly his main rival and sure challenger in the government to come.

An official from Netanyahu's party, the Likud, confirmed that the general's trip was planned without the Israeli leader's authorization and that, once faced with the fait accompli shortly before leaving, Netanyahu would have had a “tough confrontation” » verbal with Gantz, at the end of which he would have told him verbatim: «This country has only one prime minister».

Certainly, while the war continues as planned towards the total occupation of the Gaza Strip, the conduct of land operations begins to show cracks in its decision-making body, precisely the war cabinet, which does not seem at all united and compact in the strategies to be adopt from here on out: especially after the “flour massacre” among the Palestinian refugees queuing for aid in the north of Gaza, where a barrage of machine guns caused over 100 deaths and sparked fierce criticism of the way in which the war was being conducted by of the government of Jerusalem. Did the Israeli soldiers deliberately fire on the crowd? international observers ask.

According to unconfirmed speculation, the American president himself has become impatient and refuses to speak on the phone with the Israeli prime minister, even more so following the incident during humanitarian aid to the Palestinians which involved the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). . The distance between the two leaders would be widening even further, as Joe Biden is now convinced that Netanyahu does not intend to respect the commitments on aid guaranteed to the Palestinian population, but only aims to crush any form of resistance, including civil, in Gaza.

Whether this is true or not, it is now clear to everyone that every criticism of Israel has so far been addressed personally to Benjamin Netanyahu, by virtue of both previous internal political disputes and the trials for corruption and fraud hanging over his head (liquidated by prime minister as an attempt to get him out of Israeli politics through the courts).

Equally true, however, is that this is no longer a “Netanyahu government” but a “national unity government” of which Benny Gantz himself is an integral part. And it is because of the agreement reached just a few days after the massacre of October 7, when the general agreed to form a war cabinet with the two leaders Gantz and Netanyahu in command, supported by Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and with former Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot and Minister for Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer as observers. The Knesset approved, and the Israeli response to Hamas could begin.

Certainly, however, something must have gone wrong during the weeks of war, if it is true as it is true that the IDF – whose leaders notoriously respect General Gantz much more than the politician Netanyahu – has seen an impressive series of resignations in recent days, including that of Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, officers Merav Granot and Tzupia Moshkovich, and Lieutenant Colonel Richard Hecht, IDF spokesperson for foreign media.

The resignation of such influential figures in the information system of the Israeli armed forces, especially in light of Gantz's “American discourtesy” towards Prime Minister Netanyahu, cannot therefore be dismissed as simple “personal reasons”, as instead alleged by official communications. On the contrary, they suggest a profound disagreement of views and irrecoverable conflicts right at the heart of the Israeli war machine, which up to now has agreed on practically every move.

At the same time, it is worth underlining that different views are primarily a concern of the White House. Which is suggested by some sources in Washington, according to whom President Biden in no way wants more Palestinian blood to be shed. Because this, in addition to violating human rights, places the US Administration in the position of complicity in the death of those 30,000 Palestinians, of whom approximately two thirds are women and children (data from the Gaza Ministry of Health, which however is managed by Hamas and therefore does not distinguish between civilians and fighters).

The priorities for the Middle Eastern region of the United States as a whole are, in fact, very different from those of Israel: first of all, preserving dominion over maritime routes, controlling the main commercial hubs and preventing other competitors from undermining American supremacy (see Suez and Red Sea tensions). This assumption is followed by the urgency of completing the Abraham Accords, for the legal recognition of Israel in the eyes of the Arab countries; and from here also derives the desire for pacification of the area to prevent the clashes in the Middle East from spreading like wildfire, which would directly involve the USA as is already partly happening in Yemen.

Added to this is the urgency for the Biden Administration not to exacerbate the tone at home, where the issue of the Israel-Hamas war is growing irritation on the part of American public opinion, which is increasingly critical of Israel and the Democrats who are moving towards markedly pro-Palestinian positions. Which will undoubtedly have an effect on the presidential race and, consequently, this will affect the secrecy of the ballot box. Joe Biden knows this well and is therefore seeking a remedy.

Well, according to the White House, the Netanyahu government is sabotaging all this: in particular, the White House doesn't like his cabinet at all, so dominated by ultranationalist hawks who risk spreading the conflict to Lebanon, the West Bank and who knows where else. With the consequence of seeing the United States itself dragged into a war that no one in America wants and which risks distracting the Washington government from the games that matter most: Russia-Ukraine and China-Taiwan.

The figure of General Gantz, in this sense, acts as a counterweight to Netanyahu's hawks and his more moderate appearance in Washington is today considered an important card to play before the entire Middle East catches fire. In short, Benny Gantz has been identified as the “reasonable solution” for the future government that will inevitably be born at the end of the conflict.

Also because, according to most polls, Netanyahu's popularity has been declining dramatically since before the outbreak of the war. Many Israelis hold him directly responsible for failing to stop Hamas' cross-border terrorist attack on October 7, which killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and left about 250 people hostage in Gaza, half of them now with no more hope of returning home.

In short, with the officers mutinying against him, with the rival flying to America without his permission, with public opinion against him and with a war that doesn't seem likely to end in the short term; and, again, with the hope of bringing the hostages home increasingly fading, Benjamin Netanyahu increasingly appears in the eyes of the Americans as the obstacle to be overcome to resolve the most dangerous Middle Eastern crisis of the last thirty years: «Israel has had the overwhelming support of the vast majority of nations, but if this continues like this with this incredibly conservative government, it will lose the support of the whole world” Biden said a few days ago. Which obviously did not include that of the American ally, which will still remain alongside Israel, preferably with Benny Gantz in command.