Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman sharply criticized his replacement as defense minister, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in an interview on Channel 2’s Meet the Press program on Saturday night.
Liberman said Operation Northern Shield on the border with Lebanon should not have been made a more urgent priority than responding to Hamas terrorism on the Gaza periphery.“Taking action in the North does not justify inaction in the South,” Liberman said. “What is happening in the North is an engineering act, not a military operation. There is no need to put one over the other. Both can be dealt with.”Liberman said he did not regret his decision to quit last month, which he said was an act of protest against Netanyahu’s decision to not be tougher on Hamas. He said enabling Qatar to provide Gaza with $30 million over the past two months was “surrendering to Hamas and terror” and “buying quiet at the price of our national securityIn a recent meeting with top generals about the security situation on the Gaza border, Liberman reportedly reacted to statements by Eizenkot opposing a ground invasion into the Gaza Strip. Liberman was quoted saying in the closed door meeting saying that “Sometimes, I feel like what I am hearing a meeting of the leadership of Peace Now.”Liberman said Saturday night that his words had been twisted, and that there was much that could be done to end Hamas terrorism without a ground operation into the Gaza Strip.Construction and Housing Minister Yoav Galant, who is a member of the Security Cabinet, defended Operation Northern Shield in an interview with Channel 10 on Saturday night. “The tunnels were a ticking time bomb,” said Galant, who is a former head of the IDF’s Southern Command.
Netanyahu with foreign diplomats at the Lebanon border, December 12, 2018 (GPO)