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DEFENSE MINISTER Avigdor Liberman participates in a Rosh Hashana toast yesterday in the West Bank settlement of Vered Yeriho..(Photo by: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
Liberman: West Bank settlements are necessary for Israel’s defense
Palestinians have insisted that settlement activity is a stumbling block to peace and the US has frowned on such building.
West Bank settlements ensure Israel’s security even in the era when Israel is under threat from missile and cyber attacks, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said on Sunday evening.

“From my perspective, it's clear that the settlements in Judea and Samaria and those here in the area of Jericho and the Dead Sea are the State of Israel’s true defensive wall,” Liberman said.

This is true “even in the cyber age and the missile era,” Liberman said.

He spoke during a Jewish New Year toast with settler leaders in the Vered Yeriho settlement, which overlooks the Palestinian city of Jericho.

“At the end of the day, what is determinative is who is in the field. The settlements have always been the pioneers of the pioneers of [Israel’s] security,” Liberman said.

“In this way, nothing has changed since the time of the ‘tower and the stockade,'” Liberman said.

Liberman gave a rousing speech in defense of the settlement movement on the eve of US President Donald Trump’s meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York on Sunday. He spoke in the midst of a renewed push by the US to resume Israeli-Palestinian talks, which have been frozen for three years.

The Palestinians have insisted that settlement activity is a stumbling block to peace and the US has frowned on such building.

But Liberman, who himself lives in the Nokdim settlement in Gush Etzion, promised to continue supporting Jewish building in the West Bank.

The minister explained that he had done more for settlement building than anyone else in the last 17 years, which includes granting official status to the municipal committee that governs Hebron’s Jewish community.

He said the “construction boom” also includes the marketing of 3,500 settler homes and the advancement of plans for 7,500 to 8,000 homes.

Liberman mentioned the tension between him and a number of settler leaders, who feel that he and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have not done enough to support settler building or to demolish illegal Palestinian construction in Area C.

Liberman in particular has spoken strongly against illegal settlement building and did so on Sunday evening as well.

“There is no need for illegal construction here,” he told the member of the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea and Samaria who had joined him for the event.

“Even from here, I have heard council heads make all kinds of unreasonable and unacceptable accusations,” Liberman said.

Earlier in the day, Jordan Valley Regional Council head David Elhayani called for the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria to be abolished.

Liberman spoke in defense of the branch of the IDF that administers civil rule in Area C, and said “you have no right to blame them.” The Civil Administration staff is simply carrying out the orders of the Prime Minister and Defense Minister’s offices, he said.
“If you want to blame someone, blame the defense minister and the prime minister, we are responsible, not them,” Liberman said.

He also promised to complete a plan to protect all the settlements with smart fences and better access roads by November.

There is no budget yet for the plan, Liberman said, but if it can be executed, it will provide security for many years to come.
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