Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s resignation ‎on Wednesday awarded Hamas an important achievement. Just a day after the latest round of violence ‎subsided, he adopted the terrorist group’s ‎‎“recommendation” and stepped down. ‎

Social-media cynics were quick to point out that it ‎seemed like Lieberman and Hamas leader Ismail ‎Haniyeh have traded places, and that rather than ‎Lieberman taking out Haniyeh ‎within 48 hours—as he ‎famously vowed to do prior to being appointed ‎defense minister—it was Hamas that sent Lieberman ‎packing after only two days of fighting. ‎

Reality is far more complicated, of course, and ‎Lieberman’s resignation is not the result of ‎an operational failure, but rather the result of a ‎cognizant decision on his part, rooted in his ‎growing frustration over Israeli policy in the Gaza ‎Strip and the understanding that he has little ‎impact on said policy. ‎

He made his frustration known, and over the ‎past few weeks, he took great care to publicly voice ‎a position that contradicted that of Israeli Prime Minister ‎Benjamin Netanyahu, who, for his part, had the ‎backing of Israel Defense Forces’ Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot ‎and Shin Bet security agency director Nadav Argaman ‎in his preference to reach some sort of ‎understanding with Hamas that would translate into a ‎long-term ceasefire.‎

Lieberman will surely push the narrative that his ‎position was based on his perception of how the war ‎on terror should be waged, but it is hard to escape ‎the feeling that his decision was heavily tainted ‎with political motives and a desire to carve out a ‎better electoral position for himself and his party, ‎Yisrael Beytenu, ahead of the next election.‎

The reality is that during Lieberman’s time as ‎defense minister, matters of defense and security ‎were managed above his head. He was certainly ‎involved, but the final decisions were made by the ‎military echelon and the prime minister. ‎

The upside was that he really did give IDF ‎officials the necessary leeway to do their job, ‎calmly and without any overt or underlying friction, ‎but the downside was that the defense establishment ‎needs a strong minister to head it, to outline its ‎course, and, when necessary, to call it out and ‎take it to task.‎

From the get-go, Lieberman was wise enough to ‎understand he needed the system to back him up. The ‎defense establishment is a mammoth mechanism, and one ‎can easily get lost within it or be dragged along by ‎its captains. He knew that brawling would be bad for ‎everyone; if anything, it would cement his image ‎as a bully, so he consciously chose to do things ‎differently. ‎

Eizenkot was a solid partner for this strategy, and ‎any disagreements they had—and there were quite a ‎few—were settled quietly and professionally, with ‎the chief of staff usually having the upper hand. ‎Even when Lieberman put his foot down, things ‎progressed prudently and more slowly than he might ‎have hoped. Finally, when Lieberman understood that ‎he had little effect on strategy as well, he decided to ‎step down. ‎

Still, the defense minister is not “just” another ‎cabinet member. In the tumultuous Israeli reality, ‎he is supposed to be second only to the prime ‎minister. ‎

Lieberman found it difficult to fill this slot, but ‎to his credit, he used his position to maintain ‎the defense establishment’s budget and multiyear ‎work plan, as well as to affect civilian-related ‎issued, such as the Homefront Command’s much-‎neglected national fortification plan. The way he ‎handled the selection of the next chief of staff was ‎also very professional. ‎

His departure from the ministry will ‎not leave a vacuum, but the question of his ‎successor is one to look out for. The security ‎events of the past week have again proven that ‎Israel needs a full-time defense minister, ‎especially if the prime minister is also the acting ‎foreign minister. ‎

The list of those chomping at the bit to be named ‎defense minister is long and comprises many self-‎professed experts, but while essentially there ‎shouldn’t be a problem naming a civilian to head the ‎defense establishment, it seems that at this time, ‎we need someone steady and experienced at the helm.‎

Two names come to mind as natural candidates for ‎this position: Construction and Housing Minister ‎Yoav Gallant, formerly GOC Southern Command, and ‎former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz. Political ‎probabilities aside, they would integrate into the ‎system seamlessly and sans the air of being yet ‎another purely political appointment. ‎

Moreover, as seasoned military men, they already ‎know what Lieberman had to learn what any other ‎candidate will have to wrap his head around quickly: National security is sacred, and wars cannot be ‎fought—let alone won—with mere slogans.

Yoav Limor is a veteran Israeli journalist and columnist for Israel Hayom.