Israel’s Jewish Home threatens Netanyahu: ‘Give us Defence Ministry or we leave’

Arturo Kim
November 15, 2018

Earlier, the Israeli Broadcasting Corporation quoted a senior Likud official as saying that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would likely assume the defense portfolio following Lieberman's exit.

Sirens wailed in southern Israel as militants unleashed barrages of rocket and mortar fire, sending residents rushing to shelters.

Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, an IDF spokesman, said the army had sent reinforcements to the Gaza frontier and bolstered its Iron Dome missile defense system.

Most of the rest landed in open fields, but dozens landed inside Israeli cities and towns, killing one person, injuring dozens more, and causing significant property damage.

Hamas has commented on the resignation of Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman after a sharp disagreement with the government over the Gaza ceasefire deal.

Over the last 24 hours of escalated tensions between Gaza and Israel, Israeli forces targeted 160 sites in Gaza and Palestinian militants fired 460 rockets into Israel.

"I didn't look for reasons to quit", Lieberman said at a hurriedly called press conference.

Netanyahu presented the decision to step back from a full-blown conflict as a unified one made by his Security Cabinet and based on the military's recommendations.

The dramatic flare-up came as months of deadly unrest along the Gaza-Israel border had appeared to be calming, with Egyptian-led efforts to forge a long-term ceasefire and bring much-needed reprieve to the impoverished Palestinian enclave having seemed to finally be making headway. "There's no other definition, no other meaning, but surrender to terrorism", he said.

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Liberman's move makes flawless sense, if one considers that his party, which holds only five of 120 seats in the Knesset, might not make it past the election threshold, as several polls have indicated (Liberman, ironically, was behind the effort to raise the threshold in an attempt to keep Arab parties out of the parliament).

Lieberman's resignation, he added, should serve as a "lesson to those who wish to test the Palestinian resistance".

"I did not agree to allow entry of Qatari money (into Gaza), and I had to allow it only after the prime minister announced it".

Inside the occupied territories, however, the ceasefire triggered angry protests by pro-occupation settlers against Netanyahu - who had already seen a decline in his popularity over a host of corruption scandals.

During the announcement at a meeting of the Yisrael Beytenu Knesset faction on Wednesday, Lieberman also called on Netanyahu to call early elections and not to "paralyze the country in the long term".

On Tuesday evening, the security cabinet agreed to an informal ceasefire with Hamas in a decision that several cabinet ministers later said they opposed.

Hamas saw victory in the Lieberman's departure.

Sources close to Bennett said his opposition to the ceasefire was crystal clear.

Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett has threatened to withdraw his Jewish Home party from the government if he is not granted the defense portfolio following the abrupt resignation of Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

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