Israel environment minister quits ‘extremist’ cabinet

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Israeli Environment Minister Avi Gabbay

The Israeli environment minister has officially resigned in protest at the appointment of hawkish politician Avigdor Lieberman as the regime’s new minister for military affairs.
Avi Gabbay said in a resignation statement on Friday that the recent “political maneuvering” and replacement are “grave actions that ignore what is important for [Israel’s] security and will bring about more extremism and rifts among the people,”
The public wants a rightist cabinet, but they do not support the establishment of an extremist cabinet, Gabbay added.
His decision came after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed up Lieberman as Israel’s new war minister on Wednesday in a pact beefing up his coalition to six parties with control over 66 of parliament’s 120 seats, up from a razor-thin majority of 61.
Later in the day, the party of far-right Israeli politician Lieberman announced it will join the ruling coalition of Netanyahu under the agreement between him and Netanyahu.
Lieberman had reportedly earlier accepted an offer by Netanyahu to become the minister of military affairs.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and Avigdor Lieberman (L), the head of hardline  Yisrael Beitenu Party, are seen during a ceremony in which they signed a coalition agreement on May 25, 2016 at the Knesset. ©AFP

Netanyahu had summoned Lieberman’s predecessor Moshe Ya’alon and reproached him over supporting an analogy between Israel’s situation and Nazi Germany.
Ya’alon then officially resigned both from the cabinet and the Knesset (parliament), citing “lack of trust” in the premier. He also said Israel and the ruling Likud Party was taken over by “dangerous and radical officials.”
On May 20, Israel’s former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak described the removal of Ya’alon and his replacement with Lieberman as a “purge” and said it “should be a red light for all of us regarding what’s going on in the administration.”
“This administration needs to be brought down before it brings all of us down,” the former Israeli prime minister said, adding that foreign officials he speaks to are no longer supportive of Israel.

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