Israel Forms Emergency Government for War Against Hamas

Israel formed a rare emergency government with a key opposition member on Wednesday to see the country through its war with Hamas.

(Bloomberg) — Israel formed a rare emergency government with a key opposition member on Wednesday to see the country through its war with Hamas.

A “war management cabinet” will be established with three members, according to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office. They are Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and ex-Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who now heads an opposition party.

Ron Dermer, who’s strategic affairs minister, and Gadi Eizenkot, a former chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces, will be observers.

Click here for Bloomberg’s coverage of the Israel-Hamas war

During the war period, no bills or government decisions will be promoted that do not concern the conduct of the war. All senior appointments will be automatically extended during the period of conflict.

A place in the war cabinet will be reserved for Yair Lapid, who’s head of the opposition and was prime minister until late last year, when Netanyahu succeeded him.

The move follows Saturday’s devastating attacks by Hamas, which killed at least 1,200 Israelis and shocked the nation to the core.

Gantz has, until now, been a bitter political rival of Netanyahu and especially his plan to weaken the power of the Supreme Court, which triggered mass protests in Israel this year. The ex-general joining the government underscores Israel’s unity ahead of what it’s saying could be a prolonged military campaign.

The government is widely expected to move troops into the southern Gaza Strip, where Hamas is based, and has said that the Iran-backed militant group must be completely destroyed.

The makeup of the war cabinet means far-right members of Netanyahu’s coalition, including Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, will not be part of helming Israel’s military operations.

Israel is also facing pressure on its northern border with Lebanon. On Wednesday Israeli forces exchange fire with Hezbollah militants, who, like Hamas, are funded and supported by Iran.

Hezbollah has expressed solidarity with Hamas. It is thought to have tens of thousands of missiles and analysts have said it may opt to attack Israel more forcefully, especially if Israeli troops move into Gaza.

Soon after the announcement of the emergency government, the central bank said Governor Amir Yaron would extend his term, which ends in December, until at least the end of the conflict period. There’s been widespread speculation in Israel that he wants to step down once his five-year term ends, and he’d said he would announce his decision around now.

(Updates with context.)

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