Israel defence minister says resigning after Gaza ceasefire

Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman, seen here during a visit to the annexed Golan Heights in September 2018, has announced his resignation and called for early elections after a sharp disagreement over a Gaza ceasefire deal (AFP Photo/JALAA MAREY)

Jerusalem (AFP) - Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced his resignation on Wednesday and called for early elections after a sharp disagreement over a Gaza ceasefire deal, throwing the government into turmoil.

"What happened yesterday –- the truce combined with the process with Hamas -- is capitulating to terror. It has no other meaning," Lieberman told journalists in explaining his reasons for resigning.

"What we're doing now as a state is buying short-term quiet, with the price being severe long-term damage to national security."

He added later: "We should agree on a date for elections as early as possible."

Lieberman also said his party was leaving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition, leaving the premier with only a one-seat majority in parliament.

Elections are not due until November 2019, but Lieberman's resignation increases the likelihood of an earlier vote.

Lieberman, a security hardliner, heads the right-wing Yisrael Beitenu party, which holds five seats in the 120-seat Knesset, or parliament.

Netanyahu has defended Tuesday's ceasefire deal that ended the worst escalation between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza since a 2014 war.