Factbox-The key people in Israel’s government

By Thomson Reuters May 16, 2024 | 12:33 PM

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – More than seven months into the war in Gaza, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant publicly demanded a clear “day after” strategy in Gaza from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, laying bare deep divisions in the cabinet over the strategic aims of the war.

Below are details on key players in government.


The longest-serving Israeli leader, Netanyahu built his reputation as a security hawk on the back of his time as a junior officer in an elite special forces unit that carried out some of the country’s most daring operations.

But he has faced mounting fury at the failures that allowed the Oct. 7 attack to take place.

In his sixth term as prime minister, Netanyahu, 74, heads one of Israel’s most right-wing coalitions. He is one of three who has a vote on the Gaza war strategy in the war cabinet.


A member of Netanyahu’s conservative Likud party, Gallant, 65, began military service as a navy frogman before rising to become one of the most senior commanders in the military. He has already clashed with Netanyahu during the bitter protests over plans to curb the power of the judiciary last year. The prime minister announced his sacking but was forced to back down after hundreds of thousands of Israelis took to the streets in spontaneous protests.

In a statement to mark 100 days of the war, Gallant said that only military pressure would achieve the twin aims of destroying Hamas and freeing the hostages, in line with Netanyahu. But he has since voiced frustration over an apparent lack of post-war plans for Gaza. He publicly challenged Netanyahu this week, saying in a televised statement that a political decision must be made regarding the day after.

Gallant also has a vote in the war cabinet. He has worn only black since the fighting erupted and said he feels as if the hostages are his own children.


Former military chief and defence minister Benny Gantz and members of his centrist party agreed to join Netanyahu’s coalition after the Hamas attack, though he has at times offered muted criticism of his rival’s political manoeuvring.

The 64-year-old, who now leads Netanyahu in opinion polls, is the third member of the war cabinet to have a vote. Gantz endorsed defence minister Gallant’s challenge about post-war plans.


A former ambassador to Washington and a close Netanyahu confidant, Dermer was key to forging Israeli relations with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in 2020 in a diplomatic drive by the Republican administration of then-U.S. President Donald Trump. He is a member of the war cabinet.


Eisenkot, 64 on Sunday, who lost a son and a nephew to Gaza fighting in December, went public with his criticism of the war’s strategy in a Jan. 19 TV interview, saying a deal was needed to free remaining hostages.

Also a war cabinet member, he said the fate of the hostages should take priority over other aims, even if that meant missing out on an opportunity to take out the political leader of Hamas.


Smotrich is a West Bank settler who heads the hardline Religious Zionism party and opposes Palestinian statehood. He serves as finance minister, but his cabinet duties include a role within the defence ministry overseeing West Bank settlements, which he wants to see expanded and, eventually, annexed by Israel.

Smotrich, 44, is pressuring Netanyahu to push on with Israel’s offensive, even if it means forgoing a truce with Hamas that would include the release of hostages.


A West Bank settler who heads the far-right Jewish Power party, Ben-Gvir is the minister in charge of police.

The 48-year-old opposes Palestinian statehood and has advocated the dismantling of the interim Palestinian Authority government set up in the 1990s. He and Smotrich have been unrelenting with their hard-line demands from Netanyahu.

In 2007, he was convicted of incitement against Arabs and support for terrorism. He is now a lawyer. He has responded to reports of a truce as saying: “In favour of a return of hostages, against a bad deal.”

(Writing by Dan Williams and Kate Holton; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Nick Macfie)