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Israel’s Lieberman resigns as defense minister

JERUSALEM (AA): Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Wednesday resigned from his post, one day after a cease-fire was reached between Palestinian resistance factions and Israel.

“I didn’t look for reasons to quit,” Lieberman told a press conference.

He cited Tuesday’s ceasefire deal in the Gaza Strip and Qatari funds for the blockaded Palestinian territory as reasons for his resignation.

“What we are doing now as a country is buying short-term quiet at the cost of our long-term security,” he said. “I did not agree to allow entry of Qatari money [into Gaza], and I had to allow it only after the prime minister announced it.”

Ahead of his press conference Lieberman announced his resignation at a closed-door meeting of members of his Yisrael Beiteinu party, according to the Israeli Broadcasting Authority.

“I am here to officially announce my resignation as defense minister,” he was quoted as saying. “What happened yesterday — the agreement with Hamas — is a surrender to terror; there’s no other interpretation,” Lieberman said.

The hardline defense minister’s resignation could lead to the dissolution of the Knesset (Israel’s parliament), according to sources close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Palestinian resistance group Hamas has hailed Lieberman’s resignation as a “political victory” for the Gaza Strip.

“Lieberman’s resignation is a political victory for Gaza, whose steadfastness has succeeded in causing a political shake in the [Israeli] occupation arena,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said on Twitter.

“[The resignation] is also a sign of defeat and helplessness in the face of the Palestinian resistance,” he added.

Since Sunday, at least 14 Palestinians have been martyred — by Israeli airstrikes and artillery — across the blockaded Gaza Strip. At least one Israeli officer was reportedly killed and another injured.

Late on Tuesday, an Egypt-brokered truce was reached between Israel and the Gaza-based Palestinian resistance factions.

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