Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman presented what has been dubbed his “carrot and stick” plan vis-à-vis the Palestinian population before a group of journalists at the IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv Wednesday.
The plan was formulated as a response to Palestinian terror in the West Bank and includes, inter alia, the opening of direct dialogue channels between Israeli officials and Palestinians. Moreover, the minister said that other initiatives will be taken such as the creation of a news website in Arabic as well as the easing of conditions for villages which do not breed terrorists.
This is intended for the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza and will cost 10 million shekels. It is forecast to begin transmission this January.
During the conference, the defense minister also addressed comments made by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit opposing moves to stop returning the bodies of Palestinians killed while carrying out attacks on Israelis. “He is an advisor. He isn’t the Supreme Court,” said Lieberman dismissively.
Lieberman described the situation of returning the bodies of terrorists from East Jerusalem as both “funny and grotesque” and has stated that he intends to put a stop to such practice and will also work to stop the return of terrorists’ bodies from the West Bank.
“If Mandelblit doesn’t defend my position in the Supreme Court, I will do so myself, and if the court decides something else contrary to my position, I will respect that as I have done in the past,” the minister promised.
Lieberman said that 15 Palestinian villages and cities from which no terrorists sprung, to be labelled as ‘green villages,’ will see the immediate easing of any current restrictions. For example and economic conditions will be boosted while industrial areas will be built west of Nablus as well as a hospital and kindergartens. Football fields will also be built in Samaria as part Lieberman’s “carrot” mechanism.
By the same token, he also said that 15 villages would be labelled ‘red villages,’ those which have bred many terrorists during the last year. These villages are expected to face, he said, “heavy security.”
By and large however, the “stick” mechanism outlined does not represent a departure from efforts already undertaken to mete out punishment against terrorists. The steps will still include home demolitions, IDF operations in Area A, confiscation of funds used for terror, arrests, the cancellation of work permits of terrorists’ families etc.
He told the journalists of his intentions to improve the conditions of the largest checkpoint in the West Bank in Qalandia and Hizma in the Jerusalem municipality in an effort to alleviate the daily problem of Palestinian and Jewish movement delays when crossing the checkposts. A similar plan was already approved by his predecessor Moshe Ya’alon and was budgeted at $300 million.
Moreover, Lieberman announced his intention to convene direct talks with dozens of influential Palestinian officials hailing from academic and economic backgrounds who, until now, have only been able to conduct talks with Israel with the explicity authorization of the Palestinian Authority.
Lieberman elaborated on security activities since the beginning of the year, listing the number of homes demolished, arrests made, weapons located, terror attacks thwarted and attacks by Palestinians. He then told his listeners that he had no intention of building another Palestinian city next to Jericho. Briefly addressing the possibility of constructing a casino in Jericho, Lieberman said, “I am against the building of a casino, also in Eilat.”