Lieberman cites government’s mishandling of Gaza, Qatar money to Hamas and approval for fuel transfer to Gaza as reasons for resignation, calls for early elections; Bennett calls to replace Lieberman, threatens to leave coalition.
Israel’s Defense Minister announced his resignation on Wednesday and called for early elections.
Avigdor Lieberman gave a press conference on Wednesday afternoon announcing he would resign as Defense Minister citing the ceasefire with Hamas and government’s handling of the situation with Gaza. Lieberman opposed the ceasefire, announcing he was finished with ongoing “excuses” from the prime minister and government to not deal properly with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
On the ceasefire following over 500 rockets fired at southern Israel, he stated to the press “As far as I’m concerned, what happened yesterday, the ceasefire yesterday and the negotiations with Hamas amounts to a capitulation to terrorism. There’s no other way to describe it.”
He also cited the government’s approval for a transfer of fuel to Gaza despite his objection, as well as the millions of dollars Qatar recently provided to the Gaza Strip and Hamas. He warned the citizens of Israel “What we are doing now as a country is buying short-term quiet at the cost of our long-term security.”
He called for early elections and a change in government and security, stating he could “not look the residents of southern Israel in the face” with the mishandling of the ongoing security situation with Gaza. He stated “We should agree on a date for elections as early as possible.”
Education Minister Naftali Bennett of the Bayit Hayehudi party, who has also condemned the ceasefire with Hamas, demanded to replace Lieberman as defense minister, reports claiming he would leave the current government coalition if he was not given the position.
During a meeting of Israel’s Security Cabinet on Tuesday morning, Prime Minister Netanyahu agreed to an unofficial ceasefire mediated by Egypt and the UN and on recommendation from Israeli security officials. The ceasefire went into effect on Tuesday evening. The ceasefire has been met with strong disapproval from some Israeli MK’s (members of parliament) as well as protests Tuesday and Wednesday from southern residents affected by terror and rocket attacks from Gaza.
Israel’s national elections are currently scheduled for November of next year.
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