Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman tenders his resignation

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman tendered his letter of resignation this morning, which will go into effect within 48 hours. A close confidant of the outgoing Defense Minister told TV7 that Lieberman’s decision to resign and withdraw his Yisrael Beiteinu faction from the coalition originated from ongoing frustration over the Prime Minister’s indecisive decision making vis-à-vis the terror emanating from the Gaza Strip. The source further explained that Avigdor Lieberman will seek early elections to allow the Israeli public to decide the fate of the country and believes that his faction will gain additional mandates to return to the country’s leadership as part of a future government that will provide him with more influence in Jerusalem.

Residents of southern Israel voiced mixed feelings at the resignation of the outgoing Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Yasmine Lavine, a resident of Southern Israel said “The situation here in the south is kind of not okay for the past eight months, we feel like people have forgotten us, as if we are not as important as of the rest of the country and Lieberman resigning from his duty is understandable. I can understand where it is coming from. I think he is doing the right thing.” Dorit Bar Ilan, another resident of Southern Israel, added “I think the resignation won’t lead to any solution. I believe it’s preferable to act from within the government. I believe there are considerations which led the cabinet to make the decisions it made. I trust that our leaders know the answers.” It is important to note that it remains unclear whether Prime Minister Netanyahu will accede to the Jewish Home party’s demand to appoint Education Minister Naftali Bennett as defense minister or whether he will opt to call early elections instead. Two of Netanyahu’s closest associates revealed in an interview to Israel’s state radio last night that appointing Minister Bennett as Israel’s top defense official would require the consent of Kulanu party chairman, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, who according to reports ‘would prefer early elections’.

One of the leaders of the Islamist Hamas organization referred to the resignation of Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman as a clear victory for Palestinian resistance. According to Ismail Radwan, A Hamas Leader, “This is a victory for Palestinian resistance, a recognition of defeat. It is one of the results of the failure of the (Israeli operation) in Khan Younis, and the failure of Lieberman’s policy to impose siege on the Gaza Strip and a result of the steadfastness of our Palestinian people.” While the Islamist organizations voiced satisfaction at the resignation of the Israeli Defense Minister, who was viewed by them as a powerful and unpredictable adversary; Hamas’s rivals in the West Bank noted that Avigdor Lieberman is expected to capitalize on the situation and return to Israel’s leadership following future elections with additional executive powers. During a press conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki stressed that Avigdor Lieberman is clearly seeking to elevate his position, with a clear aspiration to replace Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Riyad al-Maliki, Palestinian Authority’s Foreign Minister, said “We are not surprised about Lieberman’s decision to resign because it is clear that he had disagreements with Netanyahu about the situation in the Gaza Strip and the latest decisions were signaling to that. For sure, he wants to make use of what is happening in Israel and criticize Netanyahu’s policies and he is looking for a higher position than heading the defense ministry in the coming elections.”