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Israeli Defense Minister Resigns to Protest Cease-Fire with Hamas in Gaza

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, center, speaks during a meeting with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis at the Pentagon, Oct. 19, 2017, in Washington.

Israel’s defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman, resigned Wednesday to protest Israel’s acceptance of a cease-fire with Hamas movement in Gaza. The move leaves Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with only a one-seat majority in parliament, and early elections seem likely.

Lieberman discussed his decision in a news conference with reporters.

He says he is announcing his resignation as defense minister of the State of Israel. Lieberman says what happened with the cease-fire and deal with Hamas is a capitulation to terror. He says there is no other way to explain it.

He was referring to a deal Tuesday with Hamas in Gaza for the cease-fire, after Hamas fired more than 400 rockets at Israel, and Israel launched more than 100 airstrikes on Gaza in return.

Netanyahu said the cease-fire was better than a war in Gaza, but it was controversial in Israel, with some saying Israel should have struck Hamas harder, and made sure rocket fire on Israel will end.

Lieberman’s move leaves Netanyahu’s government with a one-seat majority in the 120-seat Knesset. That majority was threatened further when Lieberman’s chief rival, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, said his Jewish Home party will quit the coalition unless he is appointed defense minister.

Hebrew University political science professor Avraham Diskin says Netanyahu is not likely to agree to give Bennett the job.

"If I had to decide between the two, nomination of Bennett and early elections, early elections are more plausible," said Diskin.

The political turmoil comes as Netanyahu is embroiled in a series of corruption allegations that could force his resignation as well. Polls show that even if Netanyahu is forced to step down, his right-wing Likud party will win the next election.