Following the Israeli security cabinet’s decision to seek a long-term cessation of hostilities with Hamas, which led to the resignation of Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman who advocated ‘going to war’ with the Islamist organizations in the Gaza Strip; Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asserted that during a time of crisis, a good leader must make bold decisions, even when facing domestic criticism. Netanyahu underscored that while he understands the public’s frustration, critical decisions in the field of security cannot be made under emotional duress. Netanyahu said “In normal times, a leader must be attentive to the hearts of the people, and our people are wise. But in times of crisis, when making critical decisions in the field of security, the public cannot always be a partner in the crucial considerations that must be concealed from the enemy. At these moments, leadership is not to do the easy thing; leadership is to do the right thing, even if it is difficult. Leadership is sometimes facing criticism, when you know confidential and sensitive information that you cannot share with the citizens of Israel, and in this case with the residents of the south, whom I love and appreciate greatly.” The Israeli leader, who spoke during a state memorial ceremony for the country’s first Prime Minister and his wife, Paula and David Ben Gurion, attempted to vaguely explained to the southern communities of the Jewish State – whom were subject to indiscriminate rocket-fire from the terror organizations in the Palestinian enclave – that his decision making emanates from a clear understanding, based on a broad picture of the situation, that cannot be shared with the public for security reasons. The Israeli Prime Minister stated “I hear the voices of the residents of the south. Believe me, they are precious to me, their words penetrate my heart. But together with the heads of the security forces, I see the overall picture of Israel’s security, which I cannot share with the public. I wish I could share with the citizens of Israel everything I know, but with the security of Israel – it is mostly hidden from view.”
The Prime Minister concluded his speech by reaffirming his commitment to the security of the Jewish state and vowed to continue, together with Israel’s security establishment, to lead the country with responsibility for the sake of the country’s future. In his words, “Our enemies have pleaded for a cease-fire, and they know very well why. I cannot elaborate on our plans for the future. We will determine the right conditions and the right times for the State of Israel, which are correct for the security of our citizens. We are doing everything for Israel’s security, responsibly, discretely – on all fronts. We will continue to do the right things, both openly and covertly, for the security of Israel and for the future of Israel.”
Meanwhile, 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.”