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Israeli minister resigns after row with Netanyahu

Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon cites lack of trust after Netanyahu reportedly offered his position to Avigdor Lieberman.

Moshe Yaalon

Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon has resigned after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly offered his post to Avigdor Lieberman.

"I told the prime minister this morning that due to his conduct in recent developments, and in light of my lack of trust in him, I am resigning from the government and Knesset [Israeli parliament] and taking a break from political life," the former armed forces chief of staff said on social media on Friday.

Yaalon's surprise resignation comes two days after former foreign minister Lieberman said he would be open to bringing his far-right Yisrael Beiteinu party into Netanyahu's coalition if a number of conditions were met, including being named defence minister.

Yaalon had been at loggerheads with Netanyahu over his insistence that senior officers be encouraged to "speak their mind".

Reports said Netanyahu had been considering offering the retired lieutenant general the foreign ministry as a consolation, though the offer was never made.

Israel's controversial ministers

Yaalon, 65, as defence minister oversaw the 51-day Israeli war on Gaza in 2014, in which more than 2,000 Palestinians, a quarter of whom were children, were killed.

Lieberman, 57, is one of the country's most polarising politicians. Over three decades, he has at times been Netanyahu's closest ally and other times a fierce rival.

He has called for the execution of Palestinian members of the Israeli parliament who reportedly met with members associated with Hamas, and has signed on to controversial legislation, such as the so-called "loyalty oath" that would be required of Israeli citizens to maintain their citizenship.

He has also called for the annexation of illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and for the transfer of Palestinian citizens of Israel.


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