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Member of Israel’s War Cabinet says he’ll quit the government June 8 unless there’s a new war plan

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip — Benny Gantz, a member of Israel’s three-man War Cabinet, has threatened to resign from the government if it doesn’t adopt a new plan for the war in Gaza, a move that would leave Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu more reliant on his far-right allies.

His announcement on Saturday escalates a divide within Israel’s leadership more than seven months into a war in which it has yet to accomplish its stated goals of dismantling Hamas and returning scores of hostages abducted in the Oct. 7 terrorist attack.

Gantz spelled out a six-point plan that includes the return of scores of hostages, ending Hamas’ rule, demilitarizing the strip and establishing an international administration of civilian affairs. It also supports efforts to normalize relations with Saudi Arabia.

He says if it is not adopted by June 8 he will quit the government.

Gantz, a centrist politician and longtime political rival of Netanyahu, joined his coalition and the War Cabinet in the early days of the war.

His departure would leave Netanyahu even more beholden to far-right allies who have taken a hard line on negotiations over a cease-fire and hostage release, and who believe Israel should occupy Gaza and rebuild Jewish settlements there.

Meanwhile, the first distribution of aid is expected to begin this weekend after rolling off a newly built U.S. pier off the coast of Gaza.

United Nations officials have not said where the truckloads of food would be distributed after arriving Friday and being stored in central Deir al-Balah.

U.S. military officials anticipate the pier operation could reach 150 truckloads a day. Risks include attacks, logistical hurdles and a growing shortage of fuel.

The Israeli blockade of Gaza began after Hamas’ Oct. 7 terrorist attack on southern Israel that killed 1,200 people and took 250 others hostage. Israel says around 100 hostages are still captive in Gaza, along with the bodies of around 30 more.

The Israeli offensive has killed more than 35,000 Palestinians in Gaza, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza.

Netanyahu is under growing pressure on multiple fronts.

U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan will be in Saudi Arabia and Israel this weekend to discuss the war and is scheduled to meet with Netanyahu, who has declared that Israel would “stand alone” if needed.

Many Israelis, anguished over the hostages and accusing Netanyahu of putting political interests ahead of all else, want a deal to stop the fighting and get them freed. There was fresh frustration Friday when the military said its troops in Gaza found the bodies of three hostages killed by Hamas in the Oct. 7 terrorist attack.

Israel on Saturday announced the discovery of the body of a fourth hostage, identified as Ron Benjamin.

Thousands of Israelis again rallied Saturday evening to demand a deal along with new elections. Some police in Tel Aviv responded with water cannons.

The latest talks in pursuit of a cease-fire, mediated by Qatar, the United States and Egypt, have brought little. A vision beyond the war is also uncertain.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, a member of the three-member War Cabinet, in the past week openly said he has repeatedly pleaded with the Cabinet to decide on a postwar vision for Gaza that would see the creation of a new Palestinian civilian leadership.

Meanwhile, fighting recently erupted again in places Israel had targeted in the early days of the war and said it had under control, notably in northern Gaza.

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