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Israeli environment minister resigns over new coalition

Israel's environment minister has resigned from the cabinet after the appointment of controversial far-right politician Avigdor Lieberman as defence minister, Israeli media reported today.

Avi Gabai, a founder of the centrist Kulanu party, warned of the impact Lieberman's appointment could have on Israeli society, according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

"I see the recent political moves and the replacement of the defence minister as grave acts that ignore what's important to national security, and will widen societal rifts," he said.

Lieberman's addition to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet has led to it being described as the most right-wing in Israel's history and Gabai has become the second minister to resign over it, following former Defence Minister Moshe Ya'alon's departure from both the government and the Knesset last week.

Lieberman added his Yisrael Beiteinu party's six seats to Netanyahu's previously fragile single-seat majority after the Knesset reopening for its summer session this week.

The Knesset is set to debate a number of controversial issues in the coming months, including rules on foreign funding for NGOs, mixed-gender prayer at the Western Wall holy site and measures allowing lawmakers to be banned from the Knesset, which are expected to mainly affect Arab representatives.

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