Benny Gantz faced a tough choice over the weekend: Look indecisive or look reckless.

As John Podhoretz wrote earlier today, Gantz picked a terrible moment to quit the Israeli war council and governing coalition—a day when Israel seemingly got “off its back foot” and plowed forward with a display of self-confidence and bravery followed by genuine joy.

Why did he do it? Gantz had been slipping steadily in the polls despite the war seemingly loosening Benjamin Netanyahu’s hold on the premiership. To keep his political fortunes from collapsing, he had to show leadership. He did so by giving Bibi an ultimatum: Come up with a plan for postwar Gaza by June 8 or I bolt.

Much has changed since then but not Gantz’s ultimatum—although nobody seems to be mentioning the initial reason for the ultimatum, which suggests Gantz was just, as they say, done with this.

Which is his prerogative.

But the first polls since the breakup haven’t exactly vindicated him. One new poll shows the public evenly split on whether there should be new elections right now or in 2026 at their scheduled time. A second poll is better for Gantz’s gambit, showing a majority in favor of early elections.

But what would those early elections mean for Gantz? According to one survey, Netanyahu is the preferred prime minister over Gantz by 16 percent. That same survey suggests that Gantz’s party would lose to Bibi’s Likud but would still likely be in a better position than Netanyahu to form a governing coalition.

But that itself merely raises more questions. One count suggests Gantz might need the Islamist party Raam in that coalition; would Raam join a coalition in the middle of the war in Gaza? In another count, a majority say they’d refuse to vote for Netanyahu but would be most excited by a new coalition backed by former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. The latter means an election could bring about a shakeup that would leave Gantz in a precarious position even within his own broader coalition. Now that he’s left the government, does Gantz have any more cards to play to counteract the momentum running away from him?

And those questions bring us back to the one we started with: If Gantz left the war council too late for his own voters but too soon to prevent the rise of another centrist rival, why did he quit the government now?

I don’t think Gantz knows the answer to that, beyond “I said I would.” Which demonstrates why the political brand Gantz and his backers enthusiastically embraced a few years ago was always a poor fit, and it may have led him to this dead end.

Gantz, the former IDF chief of staff, entered politics in 2018 and formed the Blue and White party with other right-of-center opponents of Netanyahu. In the fall of 2019, he beat out Netanyahu’s Likud party but failed to form a coalition. Nonetheless, his real political coming-out event was the following month, when he spoke at the memorial for former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Gantz’s supporters have from the start wrapped him in Rabin’s legacy, and that November night he fully embraced it. As Haaretz reported at the time, Rabin’s former office director “asked the audience to turn on their cellphones, like so many lighted candles, because according to him, Gantz’s electoral victory meant the country lost on the night of Rabin’s murder was back.”

Yet the comparison was always superficial. Like Rabin, Gantz was a military man who set aside his hardline security principles to make peace and save Israel from itself. Echoing Rabin’s speech to Congress 30 years ago, he said: “I, who sent troops into fire and soldiers to their death, say today: We are embarking on a war which leaves no dead or wounded, in which there is no blood and no suffering. It is the only war in which one can take part with pleasure, the war for peace at home.”

The attempt to shoehorn Gantz into the space left by Rabin, however, was more of a long shot than his supporters acknowledged. Yes, Rabin was a tough-as-nails military man who became prime minister and who tried to make peace with the Palestinians. But Rabin spent decades marinating in Israel’s parliamentary politics. He was never seen as some kind of apolitical savior; he was the consummate political insider, as much as anybody had ever been.

And he was good at it. In the 1970s, competing for the leadership of the Labor party, he smartly asked Ariel Sharon, the future Likud prime minister whose heroic military legacy was set in stone after the 1973 Yom Kippur War, for an endorsement in the Labor primary. He sought to co-opt from his ideological opposites the only bit of heroism from the otherwise deeply mismanaged conflict—mismanaged by his own party, which would soon be punished by the public for it.

In the 1980s, while serving as defense minister in a Likud-led unity government, Rabin took advantage of the George H.W. Bush administration’s dislike of Israel’s right-wing prime minister, Yitzhak Shamir. Because the coalition’s foreign minister was a Shamir ally, Secretary of State James Baker went behind the Foreign Ministry’s back and allowed Rabin and his Egyptian counterpart to negotiate policy directly with Baker and Bush, after which Baker would present it as official U.S. policy (and a fait accompli) to Shamir’s government. It was all designed to engineer the eventual collapse of the Likud-led government to create an opening for a Rabin-led Labor government—which it did.

By the time Rabin became the man of peace who signed the Oslo Accords, he had ruthlessly cut apart his political rivals across the aisle and outrun his adversaries in his own party. Yitzhak Rabin, who had risked his life for his country too many times to count, was not a man to be trifled with. He is rightly mourned and deeply missed.

But one thing he was not was a political blank slate. It’s not Benny Gantz’s fault that he isn’t Rabin. But embracing the comparison may have prevented him from becoming whoever Benny Gantz really is.

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