Liberman: Israel doesn't have luxury of ‘wars of choice’

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June 1, 2016 07:46

"Cohesion of nation trumps attachment to greater Israel," defense minister says during first speech in new role.

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avigdor liberman

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (center) at the Defense Ministry's Kirya complex in Tel Aviv, May 30, 2016. (photo credit:ARIEL HERMONI / DEFENSE MINISTRY)

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman struck a pragmatic and restrained tone during his first speech in his new role on Monday.

In an address to the IDF General Staff, Liberman said, “We do not have the luxury of managing wars of choice. As the society in Israel, we are only authorized to manage wars of no choice, and we must win them.”

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Liberman said the role of the IDF in Israeli society “is much more significant than that of militaries in other countries,” due it being a people’s army.

He said he saw the IDF’s first role as safeguarding national cohesion. In democratic society, issues of war and peace must express the will of “the big majority of the nation, and not rely on a single coincidental [majority] seat in the Knesset,” the defense minister said.

Liberman added that whenever the values of greater Israel or a cohesive nation collide, the interests of nation takes priority over attachment to land.

He said that he intended to “work here twenty four-seven,” adding that “I believe in diplomatic pragmatism and a powerful defense policy.”

Liberman thanked his predecessor, Moshe Ya’alon, with whom “I have had many differences,” adding that he recognizes his “many accomplishments and big contribution to Israeli security. I intend to work in full cooperation with the chief of staff, Gadi Eisenkot, and the General Staff,” Liberman said.

Earlier, Liberman held a telephone conversation with Ya’alon, soon after taking up his new position.

Liberman was greeted by an IDF honor guard at noon, before holding his first working meeting with IDF chief Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot.

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