Liberman: Ya'alon lied on Israel submarine deal

Defense minister addresses JPost Conference: No Israeli PM will offer more than Olmert did in 2008.

November 23, 2016 11:21
2 minute read.

Avigdor Liberman at the JPost Diplomatic Conference, discusses German submarine purchases

Avigdor Liberman at the JPost Diplomatic Conference, discusses German submarine purchases

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman accused his predecessor Moshe Ya'alon of not telling the truth regarding a controversial submarine deal Wednesday at The Jerusalem Post Conference at the capital's Waldorf Astoria Hotel.

Ya'alon said last week that he opposed the deal and called for it to be investigated. He called reports about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's lawyer David Shimron's involvement in the deal disturbing.

"People in complicated situations sometimes have a problem with their memory," Liberman said in an interview on stage with Jerusalem Post editor-in-chief Yaakov Katz.

Liberman said that purchasing the submarines was the right decision for Israel's security and was supported by "a large consensus in the security and political establishment."

When Katz asked him how many submarines Israel needed, he said "Count how many submarines our neighbors have together in the Mediterranean Sea."

Following a speech by Netanyahu in which he boasted of his optimism, Liberman called himself a realist and expressed concern about threats to Israel throughout the region.

"Israel is still facing more challenges than any other state in the world," he said, singling out Hamas, ISIS, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, al-Qaida, "and behind all of them, Iran."

Liberman called Iran "the biggest threat to stability all around the world," but declined to offer advice to US President-elect Donald Trump about how to handle the threat and whether to cancel the international community's nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic.

Regarding construction in Judea and Samaria, Liberman also advised waiting patiently for Trump to take over on January 20, though he said he did not believe current US President Barack Obama would take action on the Palestinian issue before that.

"I suggest waiting for the new administration," he said. "It's crucial not to create slogans or news. We must give enough time to the president-elect to create with us a new approach to Judea and Samaria and the dispute with the Palestinians."

Reacting to Trump's statement Tuesday that he intended to actively seek a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Liberman said "We are open to this," though he mocked Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas's desire and ability to reach a deal.

"I don't believe it is his intention to achieve a peaceful solution, because it is impossible to offer more than what [former prime minister] Ehud Olmert offered him," Liberman said of a 2008 proposal. "I was shocked to see what he offered. I don't think there will be a prime minister who will ever offer more."

Liberman said a better approach was to seek an interim solution.

"Anyone who thinks a final status agreement can be reached in the next two or three years is dreaming," he said, speaking in Yiddish but joking that it was Arabic.

When Katz asked him about his promise before becoming defense minister, that if he ever got the job, Hamas leader Ismail Haniya would not live 48 hours, he said: "He is still in the world, but he is not in the Gaza Strip. Next year, ask me the same question."  

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