The shouts echoed in the Prime Minister’s office Wednesday, as Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman rebuked Shabak chief Nadav Argaman over the latter’s demand to approve family unification of Israeli Arabs and residents of the Palestinian Authority. Lieberman attacked, saying, “You’ve crossed the red lines,” Argaman replied: “I don’t work for you.”
On many occasions, defense establishment debates become heated, but Wednesday’s exchange, which took place between the defense minister and the head of shabak was particularly explosive. The raucous conversation between the two took place inside the “aquarium,” a sealed, transparent room in the Prime Minister’s office, where passersby, including members of the security establishment, could see what is going on.
The background to the harsh exchange was Liberman’s discovery that Argaman had sent a letter behind his back to the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, with a demand to approve some 100 cases of family unification of Israeli Arabs and PA Arabs, mainly from the Gaza Strip.
When Liberman discovered this he was outraged and scolded Argaman loudly in front of the security establishment officials present on the floor.
“You’ve crossed all the red lines,” Liberman shouted. “You can’t contact COGAT directly without updating me and without talking to me first. It’s like I would call your operations division chief and instruct him go on an operation – it’s unacceptable and it will not happen.”
Liberman did not stop, and continued to shout at the head of Shabak, making it clear to him that the authority to approve family unification belonged solely in the defense minister’s hands.
“As long as I am the defense minister there will not be one case of family reunification, not even a quarter of a case,” Liberman announced. “They want to reunite – let them reunite in Gaza. Family unification is the realization of the right of return. I am not willing to hear about it.”