Lieberman resignation ‘a political victory for Gaza’ – says Hamas

Palestinians rally in Ramallah in solidarity with Gaza after the Israeli bombardment
Palestinians rally in Ramallah in solidarity with Gaza after the Israeli bombardment

ADDRESSING reporters in Jerusalem on Wednesday, Lieberman said he deemed Tuesday’s Egyptian-mediated ceasefire with Hamas in Gaza ‘a capitulation to terror’.

He added: ‘Despite the difference in opinion, I tried to stay a faithful member of the government for as long as possible… but it has failed,’ Lieberman said.

He also fiercely objected to Israel allowing Qatar to deliver $15m in aid to Gaza last week. ‘From my point of view there are two critical points that made it impossible for me to carry on; the $15m that went into the Gaza Strip taken in suitcases from Qatar… what would happen with the money after it has gone across the border,’ the minister said.

‘It went to the families of the terrorists who fought on the border with Israeli soldiers throwing grenades. These families are the first who are going to receive part of this $15m – in other words we are… giving terrorists money,’ Lieberman added.

‘The second point is regarding the ceasefire… I understand all of the reasons and all of the information behind the decision, but I would not be able to look in the eyes of the people who are within the range of Hamas, who are taken prisoner by Hamas. Hamas has to understand that nobody should go close to the frontier.’

In a reaction on Wednesday, Hamas called Lieberman’s resignation a ‘political victory for Gaza’.

Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri said it marked ‘recognition of defeat and failure to confront the Palestinian resistance’, adding that ‘Gaza’s steadfastness sent a political shockwave’ through Israel. The resignation, which comes into effect 48 hours after Lieberman puts it in writing, significantly weakens Netanyahu’s coalition government and could bring about early elections.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu will take over as defence minister on an interim basis. Speaking to Al Jazeera from Tel Aviv, Akiva Eldar, senior columnist at Al-Monitor, said Lieberman’s resignation did not come as a surprise. ‘It was a matter of timing. The Israeli army, the chief of staff and the Shin Bet… they all strongly supported the ceasefire and ending the closure on Gaza and allowing more goods in,’ Eldar said.

‘Lieberman doesn’t have partners in the military establishment… they don’t think that cracking down on Hamas will put Israel in a better position… it will give Israel more problems in the international arena.

‘Netanyahu just visited Oman, and we were playing in Abu Dhabi, so Netanyahu is looking at the region and has to be careful not to cross certain red lines. Lieberman was a part of this… so it is cheap politics,’ Eldar added. As an Israeli parliamentary committee prepares to debate the first draft of the ‘Death Penalty for Terrorists’ bill, Adalah – The Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel said on Wednesday it fears the bill is intended for Palestinians only, demanding that it be struck down for violating international law and Israel’s Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty.

An Adalah press release said the Israeli parliament’s, Knesset, Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee was slated to discuss the bill on Wednesday. Adalah sent a letter on Tuesday to committee chairman Nissan Slomiansky demanding that he shelve the bill.

In his letter to Slomiansky, Adalah Attorney Rabea Eghbariah argued that the death penalty is an example of cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, and therefore contradicts the spirit of international law and the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty.

Eghbariah also stressed that most of the countries of the world – certainly the democracies amongst them – have completely prohibited the imposition of the death penalty. Moreover, the death penalty does not serve the declared purpose of the bill: multiple studies consistently attest to the failure of the death penalty in serving as deterrence.

Further, the legislation of a death penalty in Israel could potentially lead – vis a vis its practical application – to discrimination based on ethnicity and national belonging.

The law would be imposed by the Knesset on the Israeli military courts in the occupied West Bank – in contradiction of the provisions of international law – and would create different norms of application on Palestinian residents of the West Bank.

Adalah Attorney Eghbariah said: ‘At a time when countries around the world are ridding themselves of the death penalty, Israel is seeking to legitimise it. This is a draconian bill that is not only futile in its declared purpose of creating a deterrent effect, but contradicts core legal rights and is overtly aimed at Palestinians exclusively.’

• The Egyptian-brokered ceasefire that has ended the flare-up of violence in the Gaza Strip following a botched clandestine Israeli commando raid into the besieged enclave dominated the front page headlines in Palestinian Arabic dailies on Wednesday.

Al-Quds reported that Palestinian resistance factions have announced an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire as residents attended the funeral processions of those killed in the intensive Israeli airstrikes. Al-Ayyam reported that calm prevails in the Gaza Strip following a new ceasefire agreement.

Also regarding the situation in Gaza, al-Quds reported that a Palestinian was killed and at least four others were injured in Israeli airstrikes targeting a group of Palestinians in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip.

Regarding the Palestinian death toll, al-Ayyam said that four Palestinians were killed and 20 others injured in Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, while al-Hayat al-Jadida said that seven Palestinians were killed within 24 hours. On the other hand, al-Hayat al-Jadida said that President Mahmoud Abbas decided to cut his trip to Kuwait and returned home to follow-up on the Israeli onslaught on Gaza, a theme that was also covered in al-Ayyam.

Regarding Abbas’ visit to Kuwait, al-Quds said that Abbas and Kuwait Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah discussed the latest developments related to the Israeli aggression on Gaza. Al-Ayyam and al-Hayat al-Jadida added that Abbas has called for an urgent meeting for the Palestinian leadership yesterday to discuss ways to halt the Israeli aggression on Gaza.

Al-Ayyam said that Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki requested an emergency meeting for the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) over the Israeli onslaught on Gaza following Abbas’ instructions. According to al-Hayat al-Jadida, the cabinet decried the Israeli escalation against Gaza and called on the international community to provide protection to the Palestinian people.

Additionally, al-Quds reported Euro-Mediterranean Monitor Spokeswoman Sarah Pritchett slamming Israeli spokesman Ofir Gendelman following his tweets threatening Gaza civilians that they would suffer the same fate as during the 2012 and 2014 Israeli onslaughts.

Regarding the settlement construction in Jerusalem, al-Quds highlighted the legal battle over the ownership of Karm al-Jaouni area of the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah. It added that Israel has drafted a plan to build 500 new settler units over the area.

It also reported Palestinian national and Islamic factions warning against a plan envisaged by the private settler group Elad in the vicinity of Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. Furthermore, al-Quds said that clashes erupted between Israeli forces and Palestinians at the entrance of the southern West Bank refugee camp of al-Arroub and the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of al-Issawiya.

It added that Israeli forces delivered demolition orders for residential structures and a barn in Masafer Yatta, south of Hebron. Regarding the application of the controversial Social Security Law, the dailies reported the cabinet announcing its commitment to the timeline it announced for commencing the application of the law.

According to al-Ayyam, the law would enter into effect on November 19th, 2018 for companies with 200 employees or more. It said that Israeli Jewish settlers spray-painted racist graffiti on Palestinian property to the south of Bethlehem.