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'War now, peace later' – War Cabinet Minister Gantz emphasizes need to eliminate Hamas

Head of National Unity and War Cabin minister Benny Gantz speaks at the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in Jerusalem, February 18, 2024. (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Forrmer IDF Chief Benny Gantz, who now serves as a minister in Israel's War Cabinet, rejected international calls for unilateral Palestinian statehood.

Addressing the Conference of Presidents in Jerusalem, Gantz stressed that Israel is currently at war with an implacable enemy and that a discussion about peace was premature.

“War now, peace later,” Gantz stated, implicitly saying that peace and anti-Israel terror cannot co-exist. While he previously supported a two-state solution, the minister told conference attendees that it could take a “year, a decade, and a generation” to change the reality on the ground in Gaza.

The former IDF chief stressed that regional peace and stability will require a joint effort to confront the Iranian-led "axis of terror."

“It is through facilitating long-term processes that will consolidate a regional architecture facing the Iranian axis of terror, and by advancing international arrangements that will improve the lives of people throughout the region and promote stability and peace,” Gantz said.

Gantz, whose National Unity party represents Israel's center-left, emphasized that the Jewish state had exhausted all solutions except dismantling the terror organization Hamas, which invaded southern Israel on Oct. 7 and massacred more than 1,200 Israeli men, women and children.

Referring to Israel's past efforts to achieve peace, stated: “We have tried everything but eliminating Hamas.”

However, he made it clear to Jewish-American audience members that the Jewish state does not seek to rule the Gaza Strip’s two million residents when the war ends.

While Gantz and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are political rivals, they are currently working together in the War Cabinet and both apparently agree that unilateral Palestinian statehood is the wrong approach and could even misinterpreted as a reward for Hamas atrocities on Oct. 7.

Netanyahu recently stressed that unilateral Palestinian statehood would prevent a future peace settlement.

“Israel will continue to oppose the unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state. Such recognition in the wake of the October 7 massacre would give a huge reward to unprecedented terrorism and prevent any future peace settlement,” the premier assessed.

The Biden administration previously indicated its displeasure with Netanyahu’s opposition to Palestinian statehood, however, Gantz’s recent remarks are likely a message to Washington that other Israeli government officials agree with the prime minister's stance.

On Sunday, the Israeli government, which includes Gantz and former IDF Chief Gadi Eisenkot, unanimously rejected the international proposal for unilateral Palestinian statehood.

“Israel utterly rejects international diktats regarding a permanent settlement with the Palestinians. A settlement, if it is to be reached, will come about solely through direct negotiations between the parties, without preconditions,” the declaration read.

Many in Israel and abroad expect new elections in Israel after the current Hamas war.

Gantz’s opinions and political position matter because he is widely seen as the main candidate for Israel’s future prime minister.

Gantz emerged as the most popular Israeli politician, according to polls conducted in January. The polls predicted that Gantz’s centrist National Unity party would emerge as the nation's largest party, earning between 35 and 39 seats in the Knesset.

By contrast, Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party was projected to collapse from its current 32 parliamentary seats to only 16 seats. A Gantz-led political coalition was projected to gain around 71 seats, which would give Gantz a comparatively comfortable majority to form the next Israeli government.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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