Israel Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman resigned on Wednesday in protest against an Egypt-mediated truce between the country and the Hamas militant group, and the millions of dollars in cash Qatar has allegedly sent to Gaza. He also called for elections to be held in Israel “as early as possible”, Haaretz reported.
Lieberman called the truce “a capitulation to terror”. “What we are doing now as a country is buying short-term quiet at the cost of our long-term security,” he added. Lieberman claimed he had tried to “remain a loyal government member, in the cabinet, keep differences internal even at an electoral cost”.
“I did not agree to allow entry of Qatari money [into Gaza], and I had to allow it only after the prime minister [Benjamin Netanyahu] announced it,” Lieberman said. He added that he also differed with Netanyahu on the evacuation of the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar in the West Bank.
As many as three Palestinian gunmen and an Israeli civilian were killed on Tuesday after Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, carried out its most intensive shelling of Israel since the 2014 Gaza war in retaliation against a botched cross-border commando raid. Israel responded with air strikes that targeted a Hamas intelligence compound, a radio building and the studios of Al-Aqsa television, whose employees had received advance warnings from the military to evacuate.
Lieberman heads the hardline Yisrael Beitenu party, which holds five seats in the 120-seat Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, The Guardian reported. On Wednesday, he said his party would also pull out of the government, leaving the ruling coalition with a slender 61-59 majority.
Habayit Hayehudi, another party in the coalition government, also threatened to pull out unless the defence portfolio goes to Education Minister Naftali Bennett. The party has eight seats in the Knesset, and if it pulls out, elections, which are scheduled for November 2019, could be held earlier.
Meanwhile, Hamas claimed that Lieberman’s resignation is a recognition of Israel’s defeat in the battles between the two sides this week. Senior Hamas official Husan Badran had said on Tuesday that Netanyahu must fire Lieberman if he wishes the latest confrontation to end.