The Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman has described the ceasefire deal between Israel and Gaza as ‘giving in to terror’. The hardline leader while announcing his resignation said: “we are buying quiet for a short time at a very high price for long-term security.”
Addressing a news conference in Jerusalem, Liberman expressed his disgust after the government agreed to a ceasefire with Hamas to end two days of cross-border clashes. His resignation has surprised many and could result in early elections. Liberman’s stepping down will no doubt leave a negative impact on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government.
Differences of Opinion
He said – despite the difference in opinion he tried to stay with the government. But two critical points made it impossible to continue. “The $15 million that went into the Gaza Strip taken in suitcases from Qatar, what would happen with the money if it went across the border,” Liberman said the money went to the families of terrorists who fought on the border with Israeli soldiers throwing grenades. “We are giving terrorists money.”
In regards to the ceasefire, Liberman said whilst he understood the reasons and the government’s stance, he would not be able to look at people in the eyes. “I would not be able to look in the eyes of the people who are within range of Hamas, who are taken prisoner by Hamas. Hamas has to understand that nobody should go close to the frontier.” Liberman further said that Hamas doesn’t recognize the State of Israel.
What is the Truce About
The truce came on Tuesday evening after Hamas fired a record number of rockets and mortars into Israel over 24 hours. The Guardian reported that 400 rockets and mortars had been fired from Gaza since Monday afternoon, possibly the highest concentration launched in such a period from the enclave, and its warplanes had carried out more than 100 bombings.
According to the Wall Street Journal “the attacks were in response to a botched Israeli intelligence-gathering mission that left seven Palestinian militants and one Israeli military officer dead in Gaza on Sunday.”
The United Nations envoy for Israeli-Palestinian peace Nickolay Mladenov had called for restraint.
Resignation Will Trigger Early Elections
Liberman’s exit has reduced Netanyahu’s coalition government from 66 to 61 seats, in the 120-seat Israeli Parliament. It will not collapse the government but further attrition could result in the members calling for a vote of no confidence. And this will definitely trigger early elections.
Furthermore, the Jewish Home Party has threatened to leave the government if its leader, Naftali Bennett is not given the Defense post. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister’s media adviser Yonatan Orich said the defence portfolio will go straight away to the Netanyahu. “Mr Netanyahu is already in charge of the foreign and health ministries as well as being the premier.”
Despite the widespread public criticism to the ceasefire, there is a fragile calm. Netanyahu said in times of fateful security decisions, a leader cannot always share with the public the crucial considerations that must be kept hidden away from the enemy.