Avigdor Lieberman's first day as defense minister
Yisrael Beytenu chairman sets out three core principles, telephones predecessor Moshe Ya'alon and convenes meeting with c-in-c Gadi Eisenkot; says that his position demonstrates that Israel is the land of opportunity; 'we are ore American than America'
“Israel is the only country in the world with the concept of “the army is the state which is not a cliche but the reality. Even today, most of the soldiers in battle are reserves, people who from day-to-day are civilians. That is why the job of the IDF...is a lot more significant than the work of other countries.” He said.
Lieberman also said that the IDF was of paramount importance not just for its military purpose but also for its influence on society “Since the founding of the IDF, it has not only been the shield of Israel but also the melting pot of Israeli society and its civic duties are no less significant that its military duties. Therefore, I see the first task of the IDF to be the protection of national resilience.”
This national resilience delineated by Lieberman by way of three core principles
“First, we don’t have the luxury of conducting a war out of choice. We are only able to conduct wars when there is no choice and we have to succeed in them,” he continued. “We also do not have the luxury of fighting wars of attrition. As a democracy, issues relating to war and peace must carry the will and support of the large majority of people and must not rely on a single vote in the Knesset.”
The second principle, Lieberman said, related to national unity: “When there is a conflict between the unity of the nation or unity of the land, unity of the people is of greater importance.”
Lieberman then digressed from military matters in his third principle, focusing instead on equal opportunity in Israel. “If I could translate this into something tangible, it would be by dramatically reducing the gap in the percentage of success in matriculation exams in high schools. The fact that the percentage of those passing their exams in Kiryat Malakhi stands at 49.85 per cent compared to in Ra'anana where it is 86.35 per cent is something which a healthy society cannot allow. There is a lot to be done on this issue,” he declared.
Lieberman cited his own experiences to praise the opportunity in Israel for new immigrants and Israelis alike. “The fact that I moved to Israel in 1978 without knowing the language, without having contacts here and without capital and I now sit here with the general staff as defense minister...proves that Israel is a land of opportunity without limits and that we are more American than America.”
To conclude, I want to say that I intend to work here 24/7 and that I believe in powerful politics and powerful security….I thank my predecessor Moshe Ya’alon about whom many times I have shared my opinion but who has many positives and has made outstanding contributions to Israel’s security. I intend to work with Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot and I am sure that, together we will protect the security of the Israel’s citizens.”
Earlier in the day Lieberman telephoned Ya’alon requesting a meeting with him in order to assist with a smooth transition of the portfolio. Ya’alon said that he would meet with Lieberman and wished him success in his new post.
After Ya’alon announced his resignation from politics he promised that if Leiberman requests a meeting with him he would oblige in a professional manner. Bidding farewell, he caled on his listners to “Remember: The army must succeed but it must stay humane, also after battle or after operations or wa it must protect our values and stay humane. I trust you to continue to lead us to success.”
After the conversation, Lieberman convened his first meeting as defense minister with Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot. Appearing in photos distributed by the defense ministry of the meeting with Eisenkot are open documents. Among other things, documents can been seen showing the number of people hit by terror attacks since the year 2000, and a command report dealing with in-depth discussions as well as a document on which Eisenkot had ironically written that he wanted to talk with Lieberman at their first meeting on " openness , transparency and mutual dialogue.
The Yisrael Beytenu chairman clarified after he was sworn into the government on Monday evening that he supports a two-state solution: “There was a lot of speculation about what was the policy of the government. I want to remind everyone that for many years I have spoken more than once about the same solution - two states for two peoples. I also think that I supported (Netanyahu’s) Bar Illan speech (in which he outlined his support for such a solution).”
“Egyptian President al-Sisi’s speech was extremely important and he created a real opportunity. We have an obligation to try and rise to the challenge,” Lieberman said
During a joint declaration with the prime minister, Lieberman said: “There are also positive elements in the Arab initiative which allow for a serious dialogue with all of the neighbors in the region.”
For his part, Netanyahu also promised that “the government will conduct prudent and responsible security policy and will not cease to search for the way to peace.” Netanyahu also pointed out that he was “obligated to achieve peace with our Palestinian neighbors and will all of our neighbors.”
“The Arab peace initiative includes positive elements which can help restore constructive negotiations with the Palestinians. We are ready to begin negotiations with Arab countries about the development of the initiative in a way that will reflect the dramatic changes that have occurred in the region since 2002 but will safeguard the goal of two states for two peoples. To this end we welcome the latest speech by Egyptian President al-Sisi and his suggestion to advance peace and security in the region.”