The resignation of Israel’s Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, on Wednesday, November 14th has been regarded primarily by Hamas as a ‘political victory’ for Gaza amidst Palestinian resistance efforts to continued Israeli occupation. According to Aljazeera, Lieberman’s abdication of his post in Tel Aviv was directly in response to the cease-fire negotiated by armed groups in Gaza and brokered by Egypt on the previous day.
After two days of Israeli air strikes, Palestinian retaliation and increased violence in Gaza, the truce was supported by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whereas Lieberman advocated for more definitive action against Hamas and other resistance groups in Gaza. His resignation was meant to serve as an act of protest against Netanyahu and the Israeli government’s support of a cease-fire in Gaza. Hamas views Lieberman’s action, according to a report by the Siasat Daily, as representative of the Israeli government’s increasing inability to combat militant Palestinian resistance movements. In addition, Hamas interpreted Lieberman’s departure as indicative of internal weaknesses within the Israeli government.
In celebrating Lieberman’s resignation as Israel’s Minister of Defense, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri stated that the events indicated Israel’s “recognition of defeat and failure to confront the Palestinian resistance.” Abu Zuhri further expressed that the dedication to resistance by forces in Gaza “caused a political shake in the area of occupation.” Government forces in Israel were politically divided – Lieberman officially cited “differences” with Prime Minister Netanyahu, in reference to the cease-fire, as his basis for resignation. Netanyahu articulated support for the cease-fire, stating that the involved “leadership is doing the right thing.” According to Asharq Al-Awsat, Lieberman lamented that Israel’s military tactics employed in response to resistance rocket fire were “insufficient and inappropriate” during a Jerusalem news conference on the subject. He additionally said that the implementation of a cease-fire was akin to “surrendering to terror” with impending detrimental consequences for national security. Although the negotiations and consequent resignation of Lieberman are viewed by Hamas and affiliate groups as political victories, Israeli responses were quite the opposite. The leader of the Zionist Union, Avi Gabbay, argued against “another fragile truce,” instead suggesting “diplomatic initiative[s] in Gaza” in the name of “security.”
As a result of the violent legacies that define relations between Israeli and Palestinian political groups in Gaza, the negotiation of a cease-fire provides an opportunity for temporary conflict pacification, albeit not termination. Lieberman’s motives for his resignation, from an international standpoint, demonstrate not an instance of victory for one political group, but rather the persistence of an ideological dependency on violence as a display of power. In this sense, Lieberman’s decision is more poignant when interpreted as the impending absence of a staunchly militaristic political leader, rather than a means by which to shake up an enemy.
When considering and promoting demilitarization as a potential pathway for international peace, non-violent communication and dispute resolution, it is imperative to support and elect leaders who share these interests. Realistically, in order to assert peaceful negotiations as a political goal, it must be a goal of both governing and electoral bodies. Additionally, a cease-fire is by definition not a peace treaty and thereby does not propose or enforce terms for the formal and permanent termination of military violence in Gaza. The region’s three wars within the past decade were all concluded with cease-fire declarations, a fact that does not bode well for the most recent negotiation’s durability in preventing further violence and establishing peaceful relations between Tel Aviv and Hamas.
According to The Siasat Daily, the recently increased violence in occupied Gaza consisted of Israeli air strikes, which were met in response with rocket strikes by Palestinian resistance groups. These events marked the most intense violence exhibited in Gaza – with at least 17 casualties according to Aljazeera’s statistics – since the conclusion of the war in 2014. The Islamic group in opposition to Israeli occupation of Gaza first achieved an official political victory in 2006, which was followed by intermittent armed conflicts, rocket strikes and attacks during 2008, 2012 and 2014 between the Israeli regime and Palestinian Hamas.
This month’s acts of violence in Gaza were catalyzed both by the fatal conflicts between Hamas protesters and Israeli military forces at the site of the Israeli-Egyptian blockade in March, as well as by Israel’s unsuccessful raid that also led to casualties on both sides of the ongoing disputes. Lieberman’s belief that Israeli responses to retaliatory Hamas rocket strikes failed to utilize sufficient force ultimately fuelled his protest resignation.
Although initially regarded by Hamas officials as a decisive political victory over occupying Israeli forces in Gaza, Lieberman’s resignation as Defense Minister of Israel has instigated the application of democratic pressure to Netanyahu’s security strategies in Gaza.
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