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Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Israel defense chief quits, warns of "extremist" rise under Netanyahu

Reuters

 

Israel's defense minister resigned on Friday, saying the nation was being taken over by "extremist and dangerous elements" after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu moved to replace him with a far-right politician in an effort to strengthen his coalition.

Political sources say Netanyahu has offered long-time rival Avigdor Lieberman the defense portfolio, a post crucial for a country on a perennial war footing. The Defence Ministry also runs civil affairs in the occupied West Bank, where Palestinians struggling for statehood live in friction with Jewish settlers.

"To my great regret, I have recently found myself in difficult disputes over matters of principle and professionalism with the prime minister, a number of cabinet members and some lawmakers," outgoing Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon said, reading, grim-faced, from a statement at his Tel Aviv office.

"The State of Israel is patient and tolerant toward the weak among it and minorities ... But to my great regret extremist and dangerous elements have overrun Israel as well as the Likud party, shaking up our home and threatening harm to those in it," he said, hinting he might quit the ruling party.

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