Lieberman Resigns

The resignation of Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, in the wake of the flare up of fighting in Gaza and the subsequent ceasefire, has precipitated a government crisis in Israel.  This is because Lieberman’s Party, Yisrael Beitanu (Israel our Home), is a member of PM Netanyahu’s coalition Government.  By leaving the coalition, this leaves Netanyahu with only a majority of one, barely enough to govern.  It is thought that Lieberman chose to do this now because he is to the right of Netanyahu and since many people are fed up with the on-off war with Hamas in Gaza and would like to see a more resolute action by the IDF to destroy or at least cripple Hamas, that should give him greater support in the upcoming elections.

Lieberman wants us to believe that he resigned because he does not agree with the Egyptian-mediated ceasefire between Israel and Hamas accepted by Netanyahu.  But, it might also be because he was the one who initiated the crisis by approving the botched IDF raid into Gaza territory that resulted in the death of a senior IDF officer and the severe reaction of Hamas.  Hamas fired ca. 460 missiles into Israel, only 120 of which actually targeted populated areas in Israel and only 20 of which were not intercepted by the Iron Dome system.  These 20 caused significant property damage, but only one person was killed, a Palestinian man in Israel illegally, and ca. 100 people were injured.

When the Defense Minster resigns that makes the PM automatically his replacement.  But Netanyahu is not only PM, but also Foreign Minister.  He is the first person in Israeli history to hold all three top posts simultaneously.  However, everyone agrees that he cannot do these jobs effectively and he must immediately find a replacement for Lieberman.  The obvious replacement is Naftali Bennet, Head of the Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) Party.  But, Bennet is the most serious contender for the position of PM to replace Netanyahu, and so he will be reluctant to appoint him.  The alternative is that he calls for new elections immediately.  This is a Government crisis and no-one knows when new elections will be held, but it can’t be too far in the future.