Israeli Minister Resigns in Protest of Lieberman’s Appointment as Defense Minister

Israel's defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman. (Photo: Video grab, AJ+, file)

An Israeli minister announced his resignation Friday in response to the ultra-right Yisrael Beytenu party joining the government coalition and appointment of right-wing Avigdor Lieberman as defense minister.

Calling Prime Minister Netanyahu’s decision to appoint Lieberman as defense minister while expanding his coalition to include the Yisrael Beytenu party “a step that he couldn’t live with,” Minister of Environmental Protection Avi Gabai and founding member of the Kulanu party resigned from his position in the government.

“I see the recent political moves and the replacement of the defense minister as grave acts that ignore what’s important to national security, and will widen societal rifts…I cannot be partner to this line of action,” Haaretz reported Gabai saying.

However, Gabai is not a member of the Israeli Knesset so his decision will not affect the size of the new right-wing coalition.

Gabai’s decision comes just one week after the resignation of former Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon and his decision to remove himself entirely from the political scene in Israel.

Lieberman, who formerly served as foreign minister and resides in an illegal settlement in the occupied West Bank, has advocated policies ranging from the overthrow of the Palestinian Authority to the deportation of Palestinian citizens of Israel into the occupied Palestinian territory.

Lieberman is currently heading a proposal to impose the death penalty on “terrorists” who are tried in military courts, essentially designing a law that would impose the penalty of death on Palestinians, who are prosecuted in military courts, while excluding Israelis, who are prosecuted in civil courts.

Lieberman has also threatened to assassinate Hamas leaders, notably declaring in 2014 that murdering Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal would be the only way to deter future tunnel construction in the besieged Gaza Strip.


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