Israel’s right-wing party union dissolved over Gaza response

Lieberman says his differences with Netanyahu have widened

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Avigdor Lieberman called off the political alliance between his party and Premier Benjamin Netanyahu, leaving the already fractious Israeli ruling coalition in turmoil.

The decision came as a result of disagreement over Israel’s response to Gaza rocket fire.

The rightwing Likud party favored a calculated military response while Lieberman’s ultranationalist Yisrael Beitenu party advocates wide-scale military offensive against the Hamas militants; a move which may require ground invasion of Gaza and likely to cause heavy casualty on both sides.

Rocket fire from Gaza has been gradually increasing over the last three weeks and is becoming a major concern for the Israeli authorities – with the more polarized and nationalist segments now demanding a stiff reaction to tackle the growing influence of Hamas in Gaza strip.

Lieberman and Netanyahu have had major differences on key national issues before the 2013 election as well. However, rifts intensified between the two allies on the issue of Gaza reoccupation after the recent attack.

"It's no secret that there are fundamental disagreements which no longer allow us to work together, so we have advised the Knesset committee that we are separating and setting up a separate faction,” said Lieberman addressing a press conference.

“This reality in which we live -- with hundreds of missiles held by a terror organization which could decide to use them at any moment -- is unacceptable”, he added.

Despite the political alliance dissolved, Lieberman’s party would remain in coalition leaving him to enjoy the portfolio of Israel’s foreign minister. But he would no longer have to coordinate his moves with the premier, which would make it difficult for policies to be passed in a divided cabinet.

"In Operation Pillar of Defense, Israel made significant achievements,” Lieberman told media, adding that the 2012 Israeli operation against Hamas successfully resulted in “the destruction of 95 percent of Hamas’ long-range missiles.”

"Today, they now have hundreds of missiles with a range of 80 kilometers (50 miles)," he added.

So far, Israel has adopted a contained response over the attacks launched from Gaza into the Israeli areas.

The 20-month long political alliance was said to enable the political stakeholders to effectively deal with the security challenges at hand. However, its recent dissolution has left Israel with political uncertainty amidst growing security concerns.

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