Former Israeli War Cabinet member accuses Netanyahu of hindering prisoner exchange deal

Former Israeli War Cabinet member accuses Netanyahu of hindering prisoner exchange deal

Benny Gantz resigned from Israeli emergency government, accusing Netanyahu of political maneuvering, prolonging onslaught

By Said Amouri

JERUSALEM (AA) - Former Israeli War Minister Benny Gantz accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday of obstructing a prisoner exchange deal with Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip for “political reasons.”

Gantz, who leads the National Unity Party, resigned Sunday from the emergency government, claiming that Netanyahu's actions were preventing a decisive victory in Israel's onslaught against Gaza.

In an interview with Israel’s public broadcaster, Gantz said Netanyahu is blocking the prisoner exchange deal based on personal political calculations rather than the interests of Israel.

“Netanyahu has made several decisions recently for personal and political reasons," Gantz added, without elaborating.

"I have tried for several months to influence decisions within the War Cabinet for Israel's benefit, but to no avail,” he said.

Israeli opposition accuses Netanyahu of prolonging the onslaught because he believes his “political future” will end when the fighting stops, potentially leading to trials regarding past corruption charges.

Last Sunday, Gantz and his fellow party member, Gadi Eisenkot, resigned from the emergency government, alleging that Netanyahu is preventing Tel Aviv from achieving a “real victory” in Gaza and the northern fronts.

They called for an agreed-upon date for early parliamentary elections.

Their withdrawal does not dismantle the government as Netanyahu still enjoys the support of 64 of 120 Knesset members.

Israel has faced international condemnation amid its continued brutal offensive on Gaza since an Oct. 7 attack by Hamas despite a UN Security Council resolution demanding an immediate cease-fire.

More than 37,200 Palestinians have since been killed in Gaza, most of them women and children, and more than 84,900 others injured, according to local health authorities.

Eight months into the Israeli onslaught, vast tracts of Gaza lay in ruins amid a crippling blockade of food clean water and medicine.

Israel is accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice, whose latest ruling ordered Tel Aviv to immediately halt its military operation in Rafah, where more than 1 million Palestinians had sought refuge from the war before it was invaded on May 6.

* Writing by Mohammad Sio

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