In Meeting with IDF Brass, Liberman Puts People Over Territory

YERUSHALAYIM -
New Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman (in suit and tie) with IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkott during a meeting with the General Headquarters Forum members in Tel Aviv on Tuesday. (Amit Elkayam/Israel Army Spokesperson)
New Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman (in suit and tie) with IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkott during a meeting with the General Headquarters Forum members in Tel Aviv on Tuesday. (Amit Elkayam/Israel Army Spokesperson)

In his first meeting with senior military officials as defense minister, Avigdor Liberman on Tuesday told them, “I’ve come to work together with you,” and outlined his guiding principles.

Liberman declared that the idea of the IDF as a “people’s army” is not a cliché; it’s a reality, and that all must strive to preserve this great national asset.

In a reference to the great emphasis on Israel retaining Yehudah and Shomron associated with the right-wing, which he represents, he said: “I’ve said this before: when there is a clash of values between the unity of the people and territorial integrity, the people are more important.” And he pledged to work at preventing unnecessary future conflicts and end ongoing “wars of attrition.”

In his remarks, Liberman also struck a personal note. “The state of Israel can pat itself on the back for providing equal opportunity. The fact that I, an immigrant who came here in 1978, not knowing the language, with no connections and no money, am sitting here today in the forum of the IDF General Staff as defense minister, like the fact that the current speaker of the Knesset is a former “prisoner of Zion” from the former Soviet Union, along with many other examples, proves that Israel is a land of limitless possibilities [a phrase Israelis typically use about the U.S.].”

“To conclude,” he said with evident emotion, “I want to stress that I intend to work 24 hours a day, and that I believe in pragmatic policies along with a strong defense.

“I wish to thank my predecessor, Moshe Yaalon, whom I have often disagreed with, but he has to his credit a great contribution to the security of Israel.”