Liberman: Conflict with Iran a matter of time, not far off

Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman said "a confrontation with Iran is only a matter of time, and not a long time."

An IAF fighter jet is seen taking off amid the Vered Hagalil drill in Israel's North. (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
An IAF fighter jet is seen taking off amid the Vered Hagalil drill in Israel's North.
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)

Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman said Thursday that "a confrontation with Iran is only a matter of time, and not a long time."

In an interview at Walla studios with Tal Shalev and Yaki Adamkar, Liberman stressed that "no diplomatic move or agreement will stop the Iranian nuclear program. They see North Korea, despite the diplomatic moves, they see its unprecedented intensification. The Jewish people must not live in illusions. Hitler wrote his book in 1923 and then seized power. This is a problem of the international community but first of all ours because they have stated that their policy is the destruction of Israel, and they do mean it."

The Finance Minister referred to the defense budget approved by the government. "They were surprised why such a large budget was approved for the IDF. The money is going to become stronger and the purchase of advanced systems. There is also money for the northern protection program after it took three years."

Liberman discussed the outline for shortening shifts and the agreement reached by Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz with the protest organizers. "I talked to Horowitz, he's a decent man. This arrangement for interns was determined in 2011. The intern's shift is 26 hours, and the average intern's salary is NIS 24,000 per month. For ten years it did not bother anyone. We are in the government for three months and we are being attacked to fix the whole situation, it is not fair. We will examine this in the framework of the agreement with the medical union."

According to him, "Horowitz did not finalize anything" on his own with the interns. "We proposed an outline called 'Periphery First' with Orna Barbivai and Horowitz, and it is important to emphasize that there is no shortage of interns at Tel Hashomer or Ichilov, there is a great shortage in the periphery, Eilat, Nahariya and Safed, and we need to take care of them. That is why we have built an outline that is acceptable to everyone. I assume that after Pesach we will enter into negotiations on a new collective arrangement and until then nothing. Everything else is really stories."

 MED STUDENTS demonstrate in Tel Aviv in support of doctors, interns and residents who resigned in protest of 26-hour-shifts and heavy workload in hospitals, October 17, 2021 (credit: MIRSHAM) MED STUDENTS demonstrate in Tel Aviv in support of doctors, interns and residents who resigned in protest of 26-hour-shifts and heavy workload in hospitals, October 17, 2021 (credit: MIRSHAM)

He went on to attack protest leader Ray Bitton and said: “You can log on to her Facebook and see that five days a week she runs a private clinic from morning to night, with all the services. So it is impossible to say that everyone is exhausted and works for a meager wage. Working conditions are not optimal, but reasonable. This is what is accepted in the United States and around the world, not just here."

The finance minister was asked about the climate crisis, and the decision to raise taxation on disposable products. "I have not used disposable utensils for a long time. I do not understand the madness that consumption here is over four times as much as the European Union, it harms the environment and the climate."

He referred to the harm to the ultra-Orthodox public as a result of the reform. "I do not understand who sees this as harmful to him. 40 years ago there were no single-use utensils and no dishwashers, these stories are plots of Shas and United Torah Judaism. These are not taxes, in the end, the consumer will not buy single-use utensils, and it is meant to change the behavioral patterns of the citizens of Israel."

Liberman was also asked about the salaries of IDF NOCs and the supplement to the pension. "This arrangement was set in the 1960s by Ben-Gurion. We made orders and reduced the amount, took off the regular service years for calculating the pension and saved several hundred million [shekel]. The attempt to present NOCs as pirates of the Caribbean is invalid."

On the salary for soldiers in regular service, the finance minister said: "There is no salary for regular soldiers, there is a subsistence allowance. We do not have a mercenary or professional army. I promised before the election to increase the subsistence allowance for regular soldiers by 50%, what do you want? It's been four months, check me after a year."

Liberman accused the Likud and opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu of the cynical use of IDF soldiers. "This is the most cynical and dangerous thing I have ever seen. This is the first time that a big party is manipulating young people, aged 18, 19 and 20. Netanyahu makes political use of soldiers to incite against another party. Netanyahu said at the Likud faction meeting that 'this is the strongest point in public opinion at the moment, talk about it as much as possible.' Who prevented him from doing that? You were in power until 2021, why did Netanyahu not do that? This is utter cynicism and manipulation. He does not really care about IDF soldiers, it is a political use."