Believe It or Not, Netanyahu Looks Like a Peacenik Compared With His Cabinet Right Now 

How It Works
July 16 2014 5:41 PM

Bibi in the Middle

Israel Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon and Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meet with IDF forices as they visit the Southern Command on July 9, 2014 in Beersheba, Israel.

Photo by Ariel Harmoni/Israel Ministry of Defense via Getty Images

Israel has apparently now agreed to a U.N. request for a five-hour humanitarian cease-fire tomorrow, but things aren’t likely to stay quiet for long. A military official tells the New York Times that the likelihood of a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip is “very high” and that dealing a meaningful blow to Hamas’ ability to fire rockets into Israel could require an operation “of many months.”

Joshua Keating Joshua Keating

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog. 

One aspect of the situation that’s gotten comparatively little attention is that hardline members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Cabinet seem to be pushing the Israeli government toward a more aggressive campaign. Netanyahu is hardly pushing for accommodation, but the most aggressive political pushback he’s gotten during this campaign is from the right, not the left.    


Yesterday, Netanyahu fired his deputy defense minister, Danny Danon, a member of his own Likud party, for saying that the short-lived cease-fire yesterday had humiliated Israel.

Netanyahu had faced heavy criticism in the Cabinet for accepting the Egyptian-proposed cease-fire, particularly from Danon, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett of the right-wing Jewish Home party.

Liberman has been the loudest voice calling for an occupation of Gaza and has split his Yisrael Beiteinu party from Netanyahu’s Likud over what he sees as the prime minister’s tepid response to rocket attacks from Gaza.

“We must go all the way, there is no alternative. We have to end this conflict with the IDF in control of all of Gaza. … There is no other way to tackle the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror that rules Gaza," he has said. Cabinet meetings have apparently become extremely heated, with Netanyahu favoring a more limited campaign. Netanyahu seems to be particularly enraged by Bennett, Danon, and Liberman publicly criticizing the government.

At the moment, the debate seems to be less about whether to stop the fighting—both Israeli public opinion and Hamas seem to be against that—than about whether to escalate the conflict significantly by launching a ground invasion. Momentum seems to be with the most aggressive voices in Netanyahu's Cabinet. Moderates like Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Finance Minister Yair Lapid—whose election last year was seen by some as a sign of a potential centrist revival in Israeli politics—have been a lot quieter lately. 

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog. 



More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

Yes, Black Families Tend to Spank More. That Doesn’t Mean It’s Good for Black Kids.

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

The Best Way to Organize Your Fridge


The GOP’s Focus on Fake Problems

Why candidates like Scott Walker are building campaigns on drug tests for the poor and voter ID laws.

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

Farewell! Emily Bazelon on What She Will Miss About Slate.

  News & Politics
Sept. 16 2014 7:03 PM Kansas Secretary of State Loses Battle to Protect Senator From Tough Race
Business Insider
Sept. 16 2014 1:23 PM Germany Has Asked Google to Reveal Its Search Algorithm, but That's Not Going to Happen
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 15 2014 11:38 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 4  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Listen."
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 5:07 PM One Comedy Group Has the Perfect Idea for Ken Burns’ Next Project
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 6:40 PM This iPhone 6 Feature Will Change Weather Forecasting
  Health & Science
Sept. 16 2014 4:09 PM It’s All Connected What links creativity, conspiracy theories, and delusions? A phenomenon called apophenia.
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 8:41 PM You’re Cut, Adrian Peterson Why fantasy football owners should release the Minnesota Vikings star.