'Everyone in Cabinet Wanted to Strike Hamas, Except PM Netanyahu' - Scholar

© AFP 2023 / MENAHEM KAHANAAvigdor Lieberman, the head of hardline nationalist party Yisrael Beitenu, is seen during a ceremony in which he signed a coalition agreement with the Israeli prime minister at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem
Avigdor Lieberman, the head of hardline nationalist party Yisrael Beitenu, is seen during a ceremony in which he signed a coalition agreement with the Israeli prime minister at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem - Sputnik International
Israeli Defense Minister’s resignation should be treated as Gaza’s political victory. This is what Hamas spokesman Abu Zuhri said as quoted by Palestinian SAFA news agency. Earlier, Avigdor Lieberman resigned from his post after the cabinet agreed to a ceasefire with Hamas in the Gaza Strip saying the move was "surrendering to terror".

Sputnik discussed Mr Lieberman's resignation and his statement with Edy Cohen — research fellow at the Bar-Ilan University in Israel.

READ MORE: From 'Drown Prisoners' to Calls for Nuking Hamas: Lieberman's Career in 7 Quotes

Sputnik: Avigdor Lieberman resigned from his post of Defense Minister of Israel, saying that Netanyahu ‘surrendered' to Hamas. What is your take on his statement? How much does it correspond to reality, in your view?

Edy Cohen: Avigdor Lieberman and the Prime Minister have differences on this subject. The Minister of Defense wanted to escalate the situation and try to strike Gaza for days and perhaps to kill Hamas terrorist organization chiefs, but by the Prime Minister, he has his own tactic, he didn't accept more escalation in Gaza. The Prime Minister, three weeks ago, was at the Gulf area at Oman, he was received by Sultan Qaboos. Now we have contact and negotiations with the Arab countries, mainly the Gulf countries and such an operation in Gaza would stall all what the Prime Minister is building, I mean new relations between the state of Israel and Arab Gulf countries lately, so that's why the Prime Minister didn't accept a large operation in Gaza.

Sputnik: According to expert assessments Lieberman's resignation now pushes the country towards early elections, how high are the chances of an early vote?

Edy Cohen: The elections should've been held in November 2019, now, indeed, we will start new elections a few months later, because some more ministers, I've heard on the radio, that some ministers want early elections, so Israel will go to another election maybe in the spring, in three months.

Sputnik: What about these snap elections? What can we anticipate? Could they bring some unexpected results, because Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet is deeply divided?

Edy Cohen: It's not divided, everyone wanted to strike Hamas, everyone except the Prime Minister. Everyone wanted to escalate the situation and the Prime Minister didn't accept this. We will have elections. I spoke with many people lately and the majority of the people, the Israelis want to strike Gaza. We don't love war, we don't like war but this is a war for peace, it's in order to stop the shelling of Israel. The 400 missiles that this organization launched into Israel, we have to stop it and unfortunately we cannot stop this organization by peaceful means. This is a terrorist organization and only with war we can deal with it.

READ MORE: Hamas Caused Political Earthquake in Israel — Spokesman on Lieberman's Departure

Sputnik: Hamas has already referred to Aviator Lieberman's resignation as a victory for a Gaza. What's your opinion?

Edt Cohen: Aviator Lieberman diman't resign because he was afraid of Hamas, they can use it as propaganda but it's not a victory,this is not a victory. We will get now a new defense minister maybe Naftali Bennet will be elected as a future minister, it will be very hard for Hamas, so maybe in their eyes it is a victory but it is propaganda.

Sputnik: Now that these snap elections are becoming a reality somewhere in spring with all this political turmoil, what is in store for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

Edt Cohen: We're waiting for the Mr. Trump deal of the century. He said maybe in December-January he would talk about this deal, so we are waiting, meanwhile Israel is conducting negotiations with the Arab world and maybe another visit of the Prime Minister to Bahrain in the Gulf area, I don't think our relations with the Gulf and these people, the Arab countries can put pressure on the Palestinians, PLO and on Hamas also. So it's also a way to make peace go forward, to make negotiations again with the Palestinian issue.

The views and opinions expressed by the speaker do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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