The Israeli defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman responded to questions edition NEWSru.co.il. The two leaders discussed the situation in the Northern and southern borders after Iranian provocations and other relevant topics.
Talked Evgeny Finkel.
Planned to speak to you today exclusively on the work of the Ministry of defence. But it would be wrong to ignore the recent events connected with investigations against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Want to know your opinion about this: will not affect the country’s security, our common security is the fact that the head of government for a long time will have to devote significant attention to legal protection?
In any case. There is a very coordinated and sophisticated system of decision-making in the field of security, in accordance with the findings of many commissions – starting with Agranat, Grapes and others. This and the General staff and the national security Council and the war Cabinet… I do not think that the recommendations made by the police in any way affect this system. Checks and balances there are very clearly preserved.
You talked with Netanyahu after the police issued its recommendations in cases of 1000 and 2000?
And how did he take these unpleasant news?
Normally. He was ready. Did not expect anything else.
In September last year in an interview with NEWSru.co.il, you said: «15 months, I have been in the position of Minister of defence is the coolest months, starting with the six day war. With all the terrorist attacks and the unrest on the Temple mount, it is about the most peaceful period of many years.» Today, since your accession to the post of defense Minister has been more than 20 months. After the incident in the North, after the first hit by an Israeli manned combat aircraft in the last 35 years, the situation, obviously, can hardly be called calm. Your assessment of the consequences of the events of 10 February?
I believe that the operations Israel conducted a brilliant operation, achieving brilliant results.
From the point of view of social consciousness, the fact that the plane fell, of course, the achievement of the Syrians, the Syrian air defence battery SA-5 (s-200)… Of course, I would like to avoid that happening ever. But sometimes this can not be avoided.
We were struck at 12 points. Approximately 45% of the Syrian air defense was destroyed. Was destroyed by Iranian center of communication, was intercepted by their drone has been eliminated mobile control center of the UAV…
There is no sense that it was an ambush organized by Iran and coordinated with the Syrian army?
No. Absolutely not. Because of these drones have very little, they would not have used such a drone to ambush. It is actually an American drone…
Attempt copy of an American drone.
Copied, Yes. Which should be, in theory, the «invisible». The fact that our radars have spotted it already a great success.
Statements about the «invisibility» of this Iranian UAV are the biggest concerns among experts.
Well, from what they have, this is the most advanced drone. They would not use it as bait.
Overall, what is your assessment of the readiness of the IDF to more serious fighting in the North? Because our F-16 aircraft fell near houses in the village Harduf, and if, God forbid, on earth would the victim, the IDF would have to act more harshly.
Today, our readiness is very high. I don’t think anyone doubts the power relations between us and all our adversaries combined. It is clear that in the era of missiles, if you start a big confusion, will we and the victims, and destruction. But I really would not advise them to come to this. They are quite pragmatic and will not test our patience.
How ready is our rear?
In an age of missiles, he’ll never be ready… The first time I managed to knock an additional 150 million shekels to the budget, in order to strengthen our rear.
Can you name a specific task, the implementation of which received these funds?
First of all, this is a public air-RAID shelters. Second – warning system. In addition, we began to build a barrier fence on the border with Syria, and more. But all this will take time.
Is the fence on the border with Syria has not been provided for in the budget?
Partially. And what is being done now, it’s a partial solution. As for the construction of a fence all along the border with Syria would require billions of shekels. 150 million for this year, the most urgent needs. I hope that by the end of the year we will be prepared much more seriously.
12 February saw the tape of the Russian state Agency RIA Novosti, the title «In Israel believe that the war in the North save only Russia». What do you think about this?
With all due respect to Russia, we clearly understood that, in the end, we can only rely on themselves. Nothing else is running. We are fairly well prepared for any twists and turns. While we support Russia’s ongoing dialogue. Although not always agree, not always the same see and appreciate what is happening. But the opportunity to conduct a Frank dialogue is very important in order to avoid direct confrontations, frictions and collisions. It works very effectively.
How, from your point of view, the effective action of the Western coalition headed by USA in Syria?
I’m not going to evaluate neither the US nor Russia. They our advice and estimates are never asked.
Hizbullah and Hamas declare a new reality after the incident on 10 February about the «unity of the resistance against the Zionist aggressor». Indeed, there is some new reality, anti-Israel forces combined?
Of course, this Iranian coalition. Today 85% of the budget of Hizbullah – charges from the Iranian Treasury. Islamic Jihad in Gaza is 100% funded by Iran. The military budget of Hamas in 2017 amounted to $ 260 million, of which $ 100 million is Iranian money. In addition, they are getting Iranian technology, and more. Today Iran is manipulating its «proxy» not only against Israel, we see the Houthi tribes in Yemen, and Shia militia in Iraq. And so on and so forth. All revolutionaries are always busy with export of revolution. In this case, Islamic…
Nearly 40 years they engaged in this export, so far quite unsuccessfully.
In Israel there is still no unified state military doctrine. But a month ago you announced the strategic doctrine against the Gaza strip. Was named following main fields: 1) the decision of the question of prisoners and missing persons, 2) elimination of subversive tunnels of Hamas, 3) completion of construction of underground barriers, 4) the undermining of the strategic capabilities of Hamas, the destruction of its infrastructure in response to the shelling of Israeli territory, 5) the strengthening of the frontier settlements, 6) the formula of coexistence «disarmament in exchange for restoration». Some of these items, in your estimation, are already being implemented sufficiently effectively? What is not implemented, and why?
We have until the end of 2018, completely solve the problem of attack tunnels…
Thanks to our efforts, and technological, and intelligence. But above all, thanks to technology. We are in the midst of construction of the barrages. We have strengthened all the settlements adjacent to the Gaza strip.
At what distance from the borders of Gaza?
About 20 km away.
In these settlements are strengthened bomb shelters, usovershenstvuetsya warning system. Building schools in which to teach even in the face of attacks.
In addition, in response to any provocation, we have to strike at the infrastructures of Hamas, which is involved in the production of weapons – on workshops and factories involved in the production of missiles.
But the most important task was to find a budget. It’s a lot of money to create underground and above-ground barriers. We are talking about billions of shekels.
On the situation in the Gaza strip. A few months ago, Hamas and Fatah declared the possibility of reconciliation. Now, those talks have stalled. The economic situation in Gaza is deteriorating, hospitals are closing. What will be the future developments in the sector? And can the deterioration of the situation in Gaza to provoke a new armed conflict with Israel?
Around Gaza is what in English is called blame game (play «who is to blame»). Everyone wants to blame the opposite direction that they disrupted the process of the truce. From Abu Mazen (President of the Palestinian authority Mahmoud Abbas) no desire to continue to Fund Gas not available, on the other hand Hamas is also not willing to give Fatah power in Gaza. What were the terms of the armistice? Hamas had to transfer Fatah power and real control in the Gaza strip, and Fatah, or rather the Palestinian authority will Finance in full the Gaza strip. But each tried to outwit the other side. This is the seventh such attempt. Like all the previous, it was doomed from the start.
As I recall, the draft of the final agreement was «dead» point about the disarmament of Hamas militants. It is clear that Hamas had it not go voluntarily. Or there is such a possibility?
No. Zero. So the negotiations stalled.
From the point of view of the real situation, I want to draw your readers ‘ attention the article is very well-known journalist, «Haaretz» Amira Hess. One of the few who regularly attend the Gaza strip. On February 12 she wrote in an editorial: «there is No humanitarian crisis in Gaza».
If this is true, whereby there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza, in your opinion?
There really is a difficult situation from the point of view of living standards, from the point of view of the state of all infrastructures including water systems, electricity and so on. However, there is no humanitarian crisis. I will mention another recent report, «al-Jazeera» about the economic boom in Gaza. I don’t think there really is a «boom». But the strip regularly gets money via GRM (Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism). We’re allowing them to export to the Arab countries of agricultural products, furniture. Qatar some money continues to pour in. In addition, Abu Mazen returned partially funding the salary of the Guild officials.
We are talking about civilian officials, not the military structure?
Yeah. He returned this funding. And there is no humanitarian crisis.
Hamas tries to exploit the situation and escalate tensions in order, by Israel to put pressure on Abu Mazen to return the funding in full. Before the crisis (in 2007) this amount is $ 1.2 billion per year. Then, the Palestinian authority stopped paying for electricity, medicines, salaries etc.
Today, about two-thirds of this funding returned to Gaza.
In a recent interview with NEWSru.co.il Deputy Amir Ohana (reserve major, who served in the Shin bet) suggested the need for a preventive attack on Gaza. In his opinion, in the South, we should not wait for the next challenge, and we must strike first. Do you agree with this opinion?
Not going to discuss in the press. I think that in principle Israel no war is not necessary. We are on the rise, from the point of view of economic development, start-up nation, innovation. Israel in recent years has set a national record from the point of view of foreign investment in our economy. We do not need war. We need to strengthen its deterrent capability. The ancient Romans, we have adopted a strategy si vis pacem, para bellum (if you want peace prepare for war).
Let’s talk about Judea and Samaria. After in December of last year, the President of the United States Donald trump announced the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, in Judea and Samaria intensified the terrorists. The most severe were the attacks near the Outpost Ḩawātah-Gilad, where he was killed Rabbi Raziel, Shevach, and at the entrance to Ariel, where he died Itamar Ben Gal. In your opinion, how effective are the actions of the army and intelligence services to prevent terrorist attacks?
Trump the proclamation of Jerusalem as the capital of our state was used by Abu Mazen as an excuse to abandon the negotiations, which he used to destabilize the region, and internationally. No real progress, no real negotiations with Israel he doesn’t need. You can blame trump Pro-Israel sentiments, but it was hard to blame Obama, the cadence of which lasted eight years, and which was more favorable to the Palestinian version of the solution of the problem than to ours. Then Abu Mazen used as a pretext (Jewish) settlements. But remember the Bush years, meeting in Annapolis, where he was left with no excuse – when Olmert during negotiations with Tzipi Livni and Condoleezza rice, took all of his requirements – and then Abu Mazen said: no, that’s all. So the Declaration of the trump for him only a pretext.
A convenient excuse.
As for the effectiveness of our military and intelligence services, I will say this: it is impossible to prevent… But when I look at how much was planned, how many attempts…
Are you talking about the report, the Shin bet for 2017?
I’m talking about the last months.
Can any data be read?
Yet. But in General manage to prevent 95-97% of the planned attacks.
In January you have given permission for the construction of 2,000 housing units in Judea and Samaria. In particular, they talked about large-scale construction in the new area of Ariel. In February, you approved the construction of the settlement Ḩawātah-Gilad. And then told that the response to any terrorist attack in Judea and Samaria, on the one hand, should be the destruction of the terrorists, on the other – strengthening of settlement activity. At what stage of implementation are these construction projects?
I think that it is best to go and see with your own eyes. I recently visited the new Amon is just a pleasure to watch. Come in Alfei Menashe – they also make full use of all building permits. Another such example of – Beth-El: only gave permission, immediately began to build. Unfortunately, Ariel is less effective. The case mayor, Ariel is moving much slower than we would like.
About the budget of the Ministry of defence. What is its real amount, how it is formed, how it changes, what is used?
The real annual budget of the Ministry of defence — about 70 billion shekels. He planned for five years, in contrast to all other ministries. Directly to the army is around 31 billion shekels. When approving the annual budget, the Finance Ministry typically offers a reduction in the ministries ‘ budgets by 1-2%. For five years in the case of defense it was a very significant amount. In this we hung a number of projects for which funding has previously approved five-year budget was not provided. We again all together, and I think we can do it all. Given recent events, it seems to me, should be returned to the Ministry of defence, at least what was originally planned. After our interview, I meet with national security adviser Meir Ben-Shabat. It needs to make its decision in a dispute between the defense Ministry and Ministry of Finance. In the time between the Finance Ministry and the defense Ministry signed an agreement under which we undertook not to request an increase of budget unless exceptional changes which will require additional funding… We believe that there has been a very serious changes in 2015, when it was approved five-year plan.
From large to small: how is army radio «Galey IDF»?
They have three sources of funding for «Galey TSAHAL» and «Galgalatz»: that the Ministry of defence is the right to use sponsorship money and that the Ministry of transport (traffic announcement «Galgalatz»).
Once you become Minister of defence in 2016, immediately began your conflict with «Galey TSAHAL» in the editorial policies. And it is still ongoing. What will be the optimal solution of this conflict?
It is no secret that I and the chief of staff wanted to close «Galey TSAHAL». I don’t know of any other modern army, except the army of North Korea, which would have its own radio station. It seems to me that the radio station is simply not needed today, when there are a lot of private media.
But how many fine journalists out of the «Galey TSAHAL»…
Yeah. Radio station «Galey TSAHAL» has become the main forge in the main University, from whence come the stars of Israeli journalism. And they, of course, try to cherish «Galtsev IDF», using his connections, his arms… Look at these kids, these soldiers are 18-19 years old who are actively involved in politics and ask any tricky questions to Ministers, politicians, and I don’t think you need to use the army. Our army very much. And even those relatively little money, tens of millions of shekels that pour each year («Galey TSAHAL»), could be used much better. And we are not talking about the radio station that exists for the soldiers, this radio is a competitor of the other stations, such as «Kan Beth» and private radio stations. I don’t think you need to create a school of journalism, the Israeli-based «Galey TSAHAL». They are a kind of sanctuary, an anachronism… I believe that on the army radio station journalists or commentators should not speak out clearly against the Israeli army, against the basic tenets, against settlement activities. Here is an example: Sorbonne University — a respected institution with an excellent reputation. Who owns the Sorbonne University? Catholic church. And you can’t, under the Charter of the University, inside the Sorbonne to conduct propaganda against the Catholic Church. And we have the «Galey TSAHAL» to hear it so that the ears wilt. I do not think that the army should do it.
To discuss visit NEWSru.co.il in Facebook