Israeli defense minister quits over Gaza truce in blow to Netanyahu

15 November, 2018, 07:49 | Author: Orlando Hughes
  • At least six Palestinians lost their lives in Israeli attacks since late Monday

Lieberman told his party, which is part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's governing coalition, that he meant to resign, highlighting his opposition to talks for a long-term ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

"Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad made a deliberate decision to try to maximize damage inside Israel and to kill Israeli civilians", said Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, Israeli Defense Forces spokesman.

Kuwait's Ambassador Mansour al-Otaibi said the majority of council members were of the view that the top United Nations body "should do something" and some suggested a visit to the region, but no decision was taken.

Palestinian demonstrate in Khan Younis in Gaza in support of Hamas following a ceasefire with Israel after two days of violence, November 13, 2018.

Lieberman also said his party was quitting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu´s coalition, leaving the premier with only a one-seat majority in parliament.

In his resignation press conference, Liberman directly criticized Netanyahu, saying he "fundamentally disagreed with him" on a number of key issues, including the government's allowing $15 million to be transferred in cash from the Qatari government to Hamas on Friday.

Less than a day after Likud supporters demonstrated against Netanyahu in the southern city of Sderot, demanding harsher retaliation in Gaza after over 400 rockets were launched from the Strip into Israel, Liberman is now relying on public resentment toward the prime minister's "lenient" response - which had the support of all the heads of the security establishment.

"I tried to remain a loyal government member in the cabinet, keep differences internal even at an electoral cost". Mr Lieberman demanded an early vote on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Gaza-based resistance groups agreed to an Egypt-brokered ceasefire with Israel.

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He said that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were taking adequate measures to minimize civilian deaths. Aid agencies have long warned that fighting in Hodeidah risks escalating the country's dire humanitarian crisis.

In Jewish Home, which has eight lawmakers, there were calls for Bennett, now education minister, to succeed Lieberman as defense chief.

"In times of emergency, in times of fateful security decisions, [a leader] can not always share with the public the crucial considerations that must be kept hidden from the enemy", said Mr. Netanyahu in a statement released while visiting the grave of Israel's first prime minister, David Ben Gurion.

A Palestinian labourer from the occupied West Bank was killed when a rocket hit a building in the Israeli city of Ashkelon.

Israeli warplanes pounded targets in the densely populated Gaza Strip on Monday, while Palestinian militants fired hundreds of mortars and rockets in the fiercest exchange of fire since the 2014 war.

Gaza´s rulers Hamas said they would abide by the ceasefire as long as Israel did the same.

But as defense minister, he could be no less a thorn in Netanyahu's side than Lieberman.

The former foreign minister, received the defense portfolio in May 2016.

So while the cease-fire holds with Gaza, Netanyahu's government may not last the night.

Israel says it is defending its border against attackers, but it has come under heavy global criticism for shooting unarmed people.

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