Israel defense minister Lieberman resigns over Gaza ceasefire

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Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman arrives at the Knesset in Jerusalem. (AFP)
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Palestinian demonstrators burn pictures of Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman in front of the house of Hamas chief Ismail Haniya. (AFP)
Updated 14 November 2018
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Israel defense minister Lieberman resigns over Gaza ceasefire

  • Benjamin Netanyahu defended Israel’s handling of Gaza as prudence
  • Lieberman describes Gaza cease-fire a 'capitulation to terror'

JERUSALEM: Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced his resignation on Wednesday in protest at a Gaza cease-fire that he called a “capitulation to terror,” weakening Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s conservative coalition government.
“Were I to stay in office, I would not be able to look southern residents in the eye,” Lieberman told reporters, referring to Israelis subjected to a surge in Palestinian rocket attacks before Tuesday’s truce took hold.
Lieberman said his resignation, which will go into effect 48 hours after he submits a formal letter to Netanyahu, also withdraws his far-right Israel Beitenu party from the coalition.
That would leave Netanyahu with control of just 61 of the 120 seats in parliament a year before Israel’s next election.

Palestinian demonstrators burn pictures of Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman in front of the house of Hamas chief Ismail Haniya. (AFP)

Political commentators had speculated that Netanyahu, who despite his approval ratings has been dogged by multiple corruption investigations, might bring forward the ballot.
They also saw in Lieberman’s decision to quit a bid to poach votes from Netanyahu and far-right cabinet rival Naftali Bennett of the Jewish Home party, ahead of an election.
A spokesman for Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud played down the option of an early poll, saying the prime minister would assume the defense post.
“There is no need to go to an election during what is a sensitive period for national security. This government can see out its days,” the spokesman, Jonatan Urich, said on Twitter.
The cracks in the coalition could soon widen, however.
In Jewish Home, which has eight lawmakers, there were calls for Bennett, now education minister, to succeed Lieberman as defense chief.
Bennett did not immediately comment. Losing him would reduce Netanyahu’s parliamentary control to 53 seats, making a snap election inevitable.
But as defense minister, he could be no less a thorn in Netanyahu’s side than Lieberman.
Lieberman and Bennett have spoken in favor of harsh Israeli military action against Gaza’s dominant Hamas Islamists, even as the government authorized a Qatari cash infusion to the impoverished enclave last week and limited itself to air strikes rather than a wider campaigns during this week’s fighting.
Netanyahu cast Israel’s handling of Gaza as prudence.
“Leadership also means standing up to criticism when you know things that are classified and which you cannot share with the public that you love,” he said in a speech. “Our enemies begged for a cease-fire, and they know well why.”
Hamas, which over the last decade has fought three wars against Israel that deepened Gaza’s economic hardships, saw victory in the Lieberman’s departure.
“Lieberman’s resignation is a recognition of the defeat before the growing force of the Palestinian resistance,” said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri. “It also showed a state of weakness that has overcome the Israelis.”
Born in the former Soviet Union, Lieberman, who has also held the foreign affairs portfolio, established an electoral base among the votes of fellow Russian-speaking immigrants. He also counts among his supporters other Israeli Jews who share his suspicions of Israel’s Arab minority or oppose the religious authority and political clout of ultra-Orthodox rabbis.


OIC foreign ministers to meet in Abu Dhabi

Updated 39 min 24 sec ago
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OIC foreign ministers to meet in Abu Dhabi

  • The meeting will be held in UAE’s capital from March 1
JEDDAH: The foreign ministers of Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member states will meet in Abu Dhabi on March 1-2 to discuss the OIC’s role in promoting development in member states.
Secretary-General Dr. Yousef bin Ahmad Al-Othaimeen said reaching higher levels of development and prosperity for member states, and strengthening economic and trade relations between them, are among the most important pillars of the OIC’s economic program.
“Economic cooperation between OIC member states is based on the established connection between development and peace, security and stability,” he added.
Al-Othaimeen cited the number of member states (57), and the diversity of their natural sources, as positive factors in terms of economic cooperation.
To improve economic and social cooperation between member states, he called for the implementation of joint programs to mobilize resources and maximize opportunities.
The foreign ministers will discuss the effectiveness and adoption of the OIC’s various programs and measures.
They will also highlight their national priorities for economic development, and areas of convergence with the OIC’s objectives, plans and programs.
The ministers will discuss activating different financing mechanisms, and the development and marketing of Islamic financial products and other innovative financing tools.
They will also explore the active participation of community-based organizations in developing the rural sector; promoting employment of the youth, women and vulnerable people; promoting economic best practices; improving the quality of human resources; and providing appropriate institutional frameworks for national economic development strategies.