Executive Intelligence Review


Netanyahu Teetering on the Edge after Liberman Resigns, and Takes His Party with Him

Nov. 14, 2018 (EIRNS)—There’s blood in the water and the sharks are circling in Israel. A week ago, Benjamin Netanyahu seemed untouchable as prime minister of Israel, but today, in the aftermath of the resignation of Avigdor Liberman as defense minister over yesterday’s Gaza ceasefire, Netanyahu’s government appears very close to collapse.

Liberman announced his resignation in a press conference earlier today, in which he expressed his strong disagreement with the cabinet decision to accept the ceasefire with Hamas, which he characterized as a “capitulation to terror” that will harm Israeli security in the long run.

Liberman not only resigned from the cabinet, he took his Yisrael Beytenu party out of the governing coalition, leaving Netanyahu with a razor thin 61-seat majority in the 120-member Knesset. Even that is now being threatened by Naftali Bennett, the education minister, who is demanding that he be made defense minister or his Bayit Yehudi party will leave the coalition, too. If Bayit Yehudi carries out its threat, the government could fall, which would force early elections. Netanyahu, for the moment, is holding the defense portfolio for himself, though there are other contenders besides Bennett for it.

According to a commentary in Ha’aretz, Liberman’s resignation couldn’t have come at a worse time for Netanyahu. Elections are mandated for no later than November 2019, but could be moved up. One of Netanyahu’s objectives was to prevent Gaza from being an issue in the election. Liberman’s resignation increases the risk of early elections, for which he hopes to strengthen his own position with the Israeli right wing, which will now be fought over the Gaza debacle and Netanyahu’s “weakness.” Netanyahu’s rivals, and even some of his allies, “sense the Netanyahu era is slowly grinding to a close.”

In Gaza, Liberman’s resignation is being seen as a victory for the Palestinian resistance. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri called Liberman’s resignation an “admission of defeat and a sign of failure to face the Palestinian resistance,” reported the Jerusalem Post. Liberman’s resignation, he went on, is a “political victory for Gaza, which succeeded in triggering a political earthquake” in Israel.