Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman at a military exercise, Aug 21, 2018.
(photo credit: ARIEL HERMONI / DEFENSE MINISTRY)
Transportation minister and Security Cabinet member Israel Katz took aim at Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman's remarks Friday saying he was not involved in securing a cease-fire in Gaza.
“When the defense minister claims he is not involved in regulating a cease-fire, Israeli citizens should feel like something is wrong. I do not need to [be the one] leaking information from cabinet meetings [to assure them] the defense minister is indeed involved. Of course he’s involved,” Katz told Army Radio on Sunday.
On Friday, Liberman arrived at Kibbutz Kissufim to meet with local authorities from Gaza periphery communities. “I don’t believe in the cease-fire. The only arrangement that exists is the reality on the ground. In the last few days we have seen that Hamas has absolute control over what happens in here [in Gaza],” he told them.
“In Gaza, we must make a strategic decision. Today it is clear that the situation in Gaza is not good. I cannot discuss the details but it is not guaranteed that we are moving in the direction of a cease-fire. I cannot foresee a cease-fire with Hamas in which it would sacrifice the interests of its people. The issue with Gaza requires thought and strategy. Nasrallah is sitting in the bunker, and Haniyeh and Sinwar are saying that Israeli deterrence exists but not enough,” Katz continued.
“I can say that I have been a member of the cabinet and worked with intelligence for more than three years. There have been many operational plans, but no proposal has been made to topple Hamas in the last three years,” Katz said.
When prompted to respond to the quarrel between Naftali Bennett and Avigdor Liberman, Katz responded: “I don’t want to participate in this spat. There is a statement from a cabinet minister saying I oppose entering Gaza, which basically tells Hamas that whatever happens, we will not enter Gaza. There was a reason there was no announcement about an official truce from the meeting: There was [only] talk of a military cease-fire.”
“Israel wants a situation with quiet borders; no burning kites, no tunnels, not a single mortar shell or a missile, and even if we have a cease-fire, I do not believe it will develop into anything else. We want a good disengagement, not one based on the word of Hamas,” Katz continued.
“Hamas is a terrorist organization whose sole objective is the destruction of the State of Israel. Therefore, I do not think we have anything to talk about with Hamas,” Liberman said.
“The only thing we are discussing with the help of the Egyptians and through the others is that, aside from issues relating to the crossing and the fishing areas, until the matter of the prisoners of war and the missing soldiers is resolved,” Liberman said.
“When there is terror, there is no economy, and when there is no terror, then there will be an economy. There must be a direct link.
This is an important message that we want to convey to the Gaza residents, to the average person in Gaza who is concerned about his livelihood and worries about how to feed his family,” Liberman said.
According to Liberman, he did not personally take part in any of the cease-fire talks.Tovah Lazaroff and Ma'ariv contributed to this report.