Environmental Protection Minister Resigns in Protest of Lieberman Appointment

Avi Gabbay says the recent cabinet reshuffle endangers national security; Kulanu party leader Moshe Kahlon says he will hold on to the environmental protection portfolio, makes no comment about Gabbay's criticism of the government.

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Environmental Protection Minister Avi Gabbay at a government meeting, May 22, 2016.
Environmental Protection Minister Avi Gabbay at a government meeting, May 22, 2016.Credit: Emil Salman
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Environmental Protection Minister Avi Gabbay announced he is resigning on Friday, saying that in light of the recent cabinet reshuffle he can no longer remain a member of the government.

Gabbay slammed the appointment of Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman as defense minister and warned that the move could polarize Israeli society.

"I see the recent political moves and the replacement of the defense minister as grave acts that ignore what's important to national security, and will widen societal rifts," he said. "I cannot be partner to this line of action."

Gabbay, a founding member of the Kulanu party, is not a member of the Knesset, which means that his resignation has no bearing on the size of the coalition.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, the chairman of Kulanu, said Friday that he has informed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of his intention to hold on to the environmental protection portfolio. He lauded Gabbay's service but made no comment about the latter's criticism of the government.

"The national plan to minimize pollution in the Haifa Bay will go on, alongside other important initiatives led by the ministry under Gabbay," he said in a statement.

Last week Kahlon expressed opposition to Liebmeran's appointment as defense minister.

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