Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced his resignation on Wednesday, in protest of the latest ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, criticizing it as “surrender to terrorism” and calling for elections to be held as a soon as possible.
Liberman said all of the members of his party, Yisrael Beiteinu, will quit the coalition.
“I didn’t look for reasons to quit,” Liberman said. “I tried to remain a loyal government member, in the cabinet, keep differences internal even at an electoral cost.” The two turning points, he said, were the 15 million dollars in cash delivered from Qatar to Gaza, and the ceasefire Israel reached with Hamas terror group on Tuesday.
“There is no other definition, no other significance, but a capitulation to terror,” he said, adding: “What we are doing now as a country is buying short-term quiet at the cost of our long-term security.”
“It is no secret there were differences between the prime minister and me,” he said. “I did not agree to allow entry of Qatari money into Gaza, and I had to allow it only after the prime minister announced it.”
Lieberman said similar differences revolved around the evacuation of the illegal Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar.
Liberman’s resignation will come into effect within 48 hours. PM Netanyahu is expected to take on the defense minister’s job until further notice.
A senior Likud official said that Liberman’s resignation “doesn’t necessarily mean calling early elections at a time of such a sensitive security situation. The government can live out its days.”
Following the announcement, a Hamas official said that Liberman’s resignation is a recognition of Israel’s defeat in this week’s confrontation with the Islamic terror group.
After almost 500 rockets fired at southern Israel, Hamas and other Gaza terror groups said Tuesday they had accepted an Egyptian-mediated ceasefire with Israel.
Some cabinet ministers claimed that Netanyahu “imprisoned” them and while they were discussing potential solutions to the escalation, he was aware that there were already advances underway to promote a ceasefire.
Following news of the ceasefire, residents of southern Israel gathered at the entrance to the town of Sderot, protesting against the security situation, Israel’s lack of reaction against rocket attacks and continued terrorism from Gaza.
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Furious at cabinet’s decision, some 500 protesters burned tires, waved signs, shouted “Bibi go home” and blocked roads in Sderot.