Benny Gantz calls for early Israeli elections

Israeli Minister Benny Gantz called for the country to hold elections in September during a press conference on Wednesday.

This is the first time Gantz has called for new elections since joining the war cabinet following the Hamas attack on Oct. 7 that prompted the Israel-Hamas war. Moving elections up to September this year would bring a vote forward by two years.

“We must agree on a date for elections in September, towards a year to the war if you will,” Gantz said in a briefing. “Setting such a date will allow us to continue the military effort while signaling to the citizens of Israel that we will soon renew their trust in us.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has spoken out against the prospect of elections while the war is ongoing. He is facing significant domestic and international pressure over Israel’s war with Hamas and the government’s inability to secure the release of the roughly 100 hostages still being held by Hamas in Gaza.

Netanyahu’s party, the Likud party, rejected Gantz’s call for September elections.

“At this fateful moment for the State of Israel and in the midst of a war, Benny Gantz must stop engaging in petty politics just because his party is disintegrating,” the party’s statement said, according to the Times of Israel. “Early elections will inevitably lead to paralysis [in the war] and [societal] division in addition to harming [the IDF’s goal to invade] Rafah and dealing a fatal blow to the chances of a hostage deal.”

Alternatively, opposition leader Yair Lapid believes the election should happen before September.

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“This government needs to go home as soon as possible so that we can return the hostages, return the evacuees home, defeat Hamas, and make sure that someone takes care of the Israeli middle class,” Lapid said in a statement.

Last month, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called for the Israeli government to hold new elections, claiming Netanyahu has “lost his way.” 

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