Iran still biggest threat to Israel, new Defense Minister says in debut appearance at Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee
The international community is ignoring Iran’s violation of its nuclear agreement with world powers, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman lamented Monday, making his first appearance before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
“The Iranian threat is still the greatest threat to the State of Israel,” Liberman said. “Iran is still promoting its missile program with full force…and we don’t have to guess whom the missiles program is targeting.”
“The fact that nations of the world are trying to ignore this clear violation of UN Security Council decisions about the agreement, which they themselves signed with Iran, proves my point,” he added.
Earlier this month a German domestic intelligence agency reported that Iran continues to seek illicit missile technology, which Western governments fear could be used to deliver nuclear weapons, and has increased its “proliferation-sensitive procurement activities…in particular with regard to items which can be used in the field of nuclear technology.” This could be a violation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which requires Iran to bring all purchases of “nuclear direct-use goods” before a procurement task force.
Liberman also addressed other security issues.
The new Defense Minister said he has made the home front his priority, because Israel’s enemies will try to attack it and harm civilians in the next war. He gave a listed such threats on every border: ISIS in Sinai, Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Al Qaeda in Syria.
“If someone tries to force us into a conflict, it will have to end with a decisive victory,” he warned. “We must erase each of our enemies’ motivation to try us a second time, if they do try the first time. But first of all, we will erase all will and motivation to mess with us.”
As for the recent spike in terrorism in the West Bank, Liberman said there have been successes in stopping attacks because security forces take initiative.
Liberman said there are some new processes in the works and a new “carrot and stick” policy for places that terrorists come from.
Asked about using economic benefits – like allowing more Palestinians to work in Israel – to deincentivize terrorism, Liberman said that the theory is true, but at the same time Hamas takes advantage of it to try to send terrorists into Israel. Therefore, such policies must be examined and balanced.
In response to a question about the Hebron shooter Elor Azaria’s trial, Liberman said his predecessor, Moshe Ya’alon, was wrong in saying that Azaria erred before his trial even began.
“Even if the soldier made a mistake, we have to back him and not attack him, certainly not with the full force of the Defense Minister,” Liberman stated.
Benjamin Weinthal contributed to this report.