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Israel loses second cabinet minister in a week

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By Catherine Hardy
Israel loses second cabinet minister in a week

<ul> <li>Second minister in a week resigns</li> <li>“I was unable to swallow the frog” – Gabbay</li> <li>Defence Minister resigned on Wednesday <p> <h3><strong>What is happening?</strong></h3> </p></li> </ul> <p>The inclusion of an ultra-nationalist politician in Israel’s governing coalition is having a domino effect on the country’s government.</p> <p>The centrist environment minister Avi Gabbay has now announced he is stepping down in protest. <p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"align="center"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/IsraelInside?src=hash">#IsraelInside</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/AviGabbay?src=hash">#AviGabbay</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/EnvironmentalProtectionMinistry?src=hash">#EnvironmentalProtectionMinistry</a> Kulanu minister resigns over coalition deal with Liberman <a href="https://t.co/K90iG5M12w">https://t.co/K90iG5M12w</a></p>— Israel News (@IsraelNewsNow) <a href="https://twitter.com/IsraelNewsNow/status/736069979586449411">May 27, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> </p></p> <p>It is the second resignation from the Israeli government in two days.</p> <h3><strong>Why has Gabbay resigned?</strong></h3> <p>Here is what he said to the media:</p> <p>“I was unable to swallow the frog that landed this week (the departure of General Moshe Ya’alon) and appointment of Avigdor Lieberman as defence minister, a year after I was appointed.” </p> <p>“In my eyes, this is an extraordinary move even for the cynical world of politics.”</p> <p>“In a country surrounded by enemies, the defence minister is not just any minister.”</p> <h3><strong>Why did Ya’alon resign?</strong></h3> <p>On Wednesday, Moshe Ya’alon confirmed his resignation as Israeli defence minister in a televised statement from defence headquarters in Tel Aviv. <p></p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"align="center"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon resigns and warns of rising 'extremism' <a href="https://t.co/OhQsOWonRj">https://t.co/OhQsOWonRj</a> <a href="https://t.co/tODXywos5f">pic.twitter.com/tODXywos5f</a></p>— The Atlantic (@TheAtlantic) <a href="https://twitter.com/TheAtlantic/status/733631644398145536">May 20, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> </p> <p>Here is what <strong>Ya’alon</strong> said:</p> <p>“To my great regret, I have recently found myself in difficult disputes over matters of principle and professionalism with the prime minister, a number of cabinet members and some lawmakers.” </p> <p>The former defence chief described Israel as “overrun by extremist and dangerous elements”.</p> <p>He said this was also felt within the governing Likud party – a hint, some say, he might be considering a political defection.</p> <p>“I have no intention of leaving the public and political life. In the future I will return to contend for Israel’s national leadership,” <strong>Yaalon</strong> added.</p> <p>Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office did not immediately respond to the comments.</p> <h3><strong>Was a replacement found?</strong></h3> <p>Yes, almost immediately.</p> <p>Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered the role to far-right politician and long-term rival, Avigdor Lieberman, who accepted.</p> <p>Some commentators say Netanyahu’s offer of a cabinet post to Lieberman only came about after talks failed on bringing centre-left opposition leader Isaac Herzog into the government. <p></p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">.<a href="https://twitter.com/natansachs"><code>natansachs</a> analyzes the shocking appointment of Avigdor Lieberman as minister of defense: <a href="https://t.co/F77hOkkBet">https://t.co/F77hOkkBet</a></p>&mdash; Brookings FP (</code>BrookingsFP) <a href="https://twitter.com/BrookingsFP/status/735977066684768257">May 26, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> </p> <p>Commentators say this is aimed at strengthening Netanyahu’s governing coalition which now has:</p> <ul> <li>Six parties</li> <li>control of more than 66 of parliament’s 120 seats</li> <li>an increase from a razor-thin majority of 61 <p> <h3><strong>How important is the role of defence?</strong></h3> </p></li> </ul> <p>It is a key position in the Israeli government.</p> <p>The country is perennially on a war footing.</p> <p>It also runs civil affairs in the West Bank, where Palestinians fighting for statehood live in a tense and often violent cohabitation with Jewish settlers. <p> <h3><strong>Who is Avigdor Lieberman?</strong></h3> </p></p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"align="center"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Avigdor Lieberman: From nightclub bouncer to Israel's new doorman <a href="https://t.co/ze57LnLFPo">https://t.co/ze57LnLFPo</a> <a href="https://t.co/o6mUwMtSoK">pic.twitter.com/o6mUwMtSoK</a></p>— Middle East Eye (@MiddleEastEye) <a href="https://twitter.com/MiddleEastEye/status/735655494862405632">May 26, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <ul> <li>Born 1958, Chișinău (capital of Republic of Moldova)</li> </ul> <p>Lieberman is well-known for his hawkish talk against Palestinians, Israel’s Arab minority and Egypt (an important regional security partner for Israel).</p> <p>Analysts describe him as inexperienced militarily.</p>