The five men who make up Israel’s war cabinet have more than a century of military experience among them and decades of political and diplomatic know-how.
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The cabinet was formed five days after Israel declared war on Gaza to temporarily unify Israel’s political factions and ensure its steadiest hands were in charge during a national crisis. Its members share histories of fierce competition and betrayal, making them the quintessential team of rivals.
Hints of those personal tensions surface from time to time, particularly when one member holds a solo news conference, or when they shift uncomfortably during joint briefings, practically grimacing when reporters ask how they are getting along.
But in contrast to the ultranationalist and deeply polarizing government that was on watch on Oct. 7, when Hamas-led attackers surged across the border from Gaza, killing about 1,200 people and abducting 240 others, according to Israeli officials, this lean, decision-making forum is widely viewed as a functional, professional body.
Working discreetly, the cabinet has gained the Israeli public’s trust, experts said. Its diverse political makeup, they added, has lent the government greater legitimacy abroad, ultimately buying the military more time to achieve its goals in Gaza — dismantling Hamas and bringing home the remaining hostages — amid intensifying international pressure.
It has also bought Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu time in the face of public anger over his government’s failures surrounding the Oct. 7 attack, — as well as created new political risks.
“The war cabinet has created a sense of confidence that decisions are not based on political considerations but are balanced and focused” on national objectives, said Tzipi Livni, who served as a government minister during two of Israel’s previous wars. “There is a huge public in Israel whose family members are serving in Gaza, in mortal danger,” she added.