Foreign Minsiter Avigdor Lieberman 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Uriel Sinai)
Lieberman started his Knesset press conference on Sunday by complaining about
being misquoted when he relayed foreign ministers telling him at an OECD
conference in Paris that Israel’s housing woes were “problems of the
Lieberman didn’t like it that media outlets attributed the quotes
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But he himself used the press conference to defend Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu’s policies, accuse the press of playing up the protests and
to remind Israelis that their lives were relatively good compared to those in
“The cup can be seen as half full or half empty,”
“It’s important to remember that the full cup is
there. Israel’s economic stability is a big asset, and it shouldn’t be
harmed by making haphazard decisions to achieve industrial
Lieberman related his difficulty getting into a cafe in Tel
Aviv’s trendy Neveh Tzedek neighborhood during Saturday night’s protest. The
cafes were full of young people, not tycoons, he said.
minister said that while the problems facing the protesters were real, other
sectors also had legitimate demands and it would be wrong to cut defense
spending or increase the national debt.
He suggested choosing four or
five of the protesters’ demands to address now and dealing with the rest in the
“Everyone is right: the doctors, the farmers, teachers, social
workers and police,” he said. “The question is what we do with all the correct
Lieberman suggested immediately building 4,000 housing
units in the Negev and the Galilee that have already been approved, as a first
step toward solving the housing shortage.
He also urged the construction
of 1,000 public housing units annually over the next three years for pensioners
and the disabled.
An Israel Beiteinu bill will be voted on when the
Knesset returns from its summer recess that would pay soldiers the average
national salary during their last three months of mandatory service. His party
“won’t concede or compromise” on the issue, Lieberman said.
right-wing politicians have blamed the housing shortage on US President Barack
Obama’s demands for a settlement freeze, Lieberman did not call for building in
Judea and Samaria until he was asked specifically about the matter. The resident
of Nokdim in Gush Etzion said he did not see a reason not to build in settlement
blocs, singling out Ma’aleh Adumim and Givat Ze’ev.
Asked whether there
should be a national-unity government and if Israel Beiteinu was ready for
elections, Lieberman said he did not believe Kadima would join the government
and that even though polls showed his party was doing well, an election at this
stage would be wrong for the country.
Lieberman spoke out against those
who are trying to “hitch a ride on the protests.”
“We shouldn’t depress
one another, and the press shouldn’t raise waves of self-depression,” he said.
“The coverage has been one-sided.”
“The protests are a sign that the
problems are real – it’s not just screamers, it’s not Woodstock,” Lieberman
“Many ministers talked about these issues long before the
protests, but the bureaucracy was stronger than the ministers.
decide what to fix first, and over what time frame,” he said.
mistakes had been made, the prime minister was “handling a complicated situation
He rejected accusations from critics such as outgoing Finance
Ministry director-general Haim Shani that Netanyahu had “shot from the hip” with
too many of his solutions to the housing crisis,” Lieberman said.
say we should look at the entire picture and not enter national depression. We
have a lot to be very proud of. It’s not that one day the screen fell and all
was revealed to be black. It’s not right to look at it in the extreme way things
have been portrayed.”
Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.