In a rare interview to the East Jerusalem newspaper "Al Quds", Minister of Defense Avigdor Liberman said, "The next war in Gaza will be the last." In the full interview, published yesterday, Liberman also commented on the negotiations with the Palestinians and said that he supports the two-state solution. "If Hamas stops digging tunnels and firing missiles, Israel will be the first state to help build a seaport and airport in Gaza," Liberman said and added that this only his own vision, rather than the opinion of the cabinet in Jerusalem.
Speaking to the Palestinian journalist Mohammed Abu Hadir, Liberman also accused the Palestinian leadership of being an obstacle to peace, rather than the Israeli leadership, as the Palestinians claim. He said that Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) has not been seeking peace and has been inciting violence, instead of acting to stop it. "We need someone other than Abu Mazen to sign the final agreement," Liberman said, adding that Israel needs another leader on the Palestinian side due to the stubborn resistance of the PA chairman.
The minister of defense also said in the interview that the settlements take only 1.4% of the territory of Judea and Samaria and have no negative impact on the peace process. He added that settlers have been exposed to attacks on a daily basis and that it is better to keep the Israelis and Palestinians separated. He further added that trust between the parties is a prerequisite for peace talks.
As for the Gaza Strip, Liberman made it clear that Israel has no intentions of reconquering Gaza or building new settlements there. The minister of defense criticized Hamas, the organization which controls the Gaza Strip, accusing it of spending over NIS 100 million per month on its military operations.
Only this morning, the Israeli Air Force attacked Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, after a rocket had been fired towards the territory of Israel. No damage or casualties have been reported, with the rocket probably exploding in Gaza Strip territory. The IDF said that it considers "the terrorist organization Hamas to hold exclusive responsibility over the situation in the Gaza Strip."
Liberman also talked about internal issues in the Arab and Palestinian societies. He said that while in the past it had been easy to incite the Arab public against Israel and blame it for all the problems of the Palestinian people, the situation today is clearly different. Moreover, he said that at present the overwhelming majority, 99%, of bloodshed in the Muslim society is due to internal issues, rather than conflicts with Israel.
The interview, published on Sunday, incited anger in the Palestinian public, with the tag "aalam at tatbiya" ("the normalization media") gaining momentum on the social networks. Moreover, the Palestinian media described this interview as "Liberman's method of making inroads into Palestinian homes".
Moreover, the terms the newspaper used to describe the territory of Judea and Samaria, "the West Bank (Judea and Samaria)," caused outrage in the Palestinian society. It seems that the newspaper itself had accepted this criticism, not putting the Monday article in the limelight like the preliminary article published Sunday in preparation for the full interviews.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on October 25, 2016
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