In Israeli politics, wars against the Palestinians tend to be winning issues, especially for far-right governments. That’s why Monday’s flare-up in Gaza thrilled hawks in the current coalition. Peace, however, is another matter. Peace threatens to collapse the coalition government outright.
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, an outspoken opponent of the ceasefire in Gaza, quit on Wednesday morning. Education Minister Naftali Bennett could be close behind, as he’s demanding the defense portfolio job, or he’ll pull his party out as well.
Though Netanyahu desperately wants to avoid early elections, it’s not clear how he’s going to be able to. Indications are that he wants to keep the defense ministry for himself, and even then giving it to Bennett, who reportedly laid out a plan for conquering Gaza during the security cabinet, is probably not a real option.
This has always been a big reason this coalition was unstable. The right wingers were never natural partners for the far-right, let alone the ultra-hawkish even-further-right. Avoiding the peace process was enough to keep everyone sort of unified for a time, but letting a new Gaza War just burn was likely never a real option for Netanyahu, even if neither Lieberman nor Bennett was ready to accept the alternative.