Netanyahu advocates patience, determination following Lieberman criticism


Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to work patiently but determinedly to restore quiet for Israel’s citizens after right-wing leaders criticised his support for an Egyptian-sponsored ceasefire.

Speaking after Hamas rocket fire continued, despite Israel’s implementation of a ceasefire, Netanyahu said, “This would have been better resolved diplomatically, that’s what we tried to do when we accepted the Egyptian truce proposal today … but Hamas has left us no choice but to expand the operation against it.” He added, “That’s how we will act till we achieve our goal of bringing quiet to Israel’s citizens.”

Netanyahu’s comments came after Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman denounced the Security Cabinet’s decision to approve the ceasefire earlier in the day. Lieberman told reporters, “A ceasefire is mere preparation for the next round of violence,” and suggested that following Hamas’s rejection of the truce, “We must make a clear decision. All this hesitation works against us. We must go all the way. There is no alternative.” In practice, Lieberman said “An end result to the operation would see the IDF control Gaza.”

Lieberman’s criticism comes a week after he announced that his Yisrael Beitenu party had ended its formal partnership with Netanyahu’s Likud Party, complicating the Prime Minister’s control of government. Support for the ceasefire was also sharply criticised by other right-wing leaders including Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett and by Deputy Defence Minister Danny Danon, who said Hamas had humiliated Israel. Danon is considered a firebrand leader of the Likud’s right-wing and has regularly challenged Netanyahu’s position in the party.

Netanyahu responded by sacking Danon, saying, “It is inconceivable that the Deputy Defence Minister will attack the country’s leadership leading the campaign.” Netanyahu also alluded to Lieberman’s comments, saying, “I’m determined to do the right thing, I know you trust me to ignore the background noises and focus on the main mission to safeguard you and your lives.” He added, “These are moments when decisions must be made coolly and with patience, not hastily or noisily.”