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Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman

In a question-and-answer session in the Knesset this week, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman Addressed a question by MK Abd Al Hakeem Haj Yahya (Joint Arab List) about the conditions at checkpoints in Judea and Samaria, Liberman said “What’s happening at checkpoints is unreasonable, and there is no doubt it harms our security.”

“There are three authorities that deal with this issue — the Airports Authority, Defense Ministry and Public Security Ministry, and this creates a complicated chaos,” Liberman explained.

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Liberman expressed his hope that the matter will be taken care of in next year’s budget, “to improve things from every perspective – security and humanitarian.”

Liberman was asked by MK Yoel Hasson (Zionist Camp) about the reconciliation agreement with Turkey and whether it constitutes recognition of the Hamas’ regime in Gaza. “Our starting point must be Egypt,” the defense minister said. “It is our most important, serious ally in the Middle East. How will it affect our relations with Egypt? Personally, I’ve invested a lot of effort in building relations of trust and cooperation [with Egypt]. There are many other considerations here which we must take into account.”

MK Orly Levi-Abekasis asked Liberman why IDF soldiers who became disabled during the 2014 Operation Protective Edge have yet to receive the benefits they deserve. “There is an absolute commitment to this issue, and those who are dealing with it are doing so with dedication. It has been examined in the various committees, and as a minister I have to trust those professional echelons. The disabled themselves are part of the formulation of those benefits. Intense debates are being held in order to improve their situation,” Liberman answered.

MK Masud Ganaim (Joint Arab List) asked the defense minister about his summoning of Army Radio commander Yaron Dekel regarding a program on Arab poet Mahmoud Darwish which was aired by the station. “It is okay to air an episode on Darwish, but in the framework of ‘know your enemy,’ together with the mufti and Goebbels,” Liberman retorted.

Asked by MK Michal Rozin (Meretz) about his decision to revoke the entry permit to Israel of senior Palestinian Authority official Mohammed al-Madani, Liberman said, “Part of the tradition in the Palestinian Authority is that the same people who at nighttime deal with harming Israel and worked hard to annihilate the State of Israel, during the daytime speak a lot about brotherhood among the nations, peace, and so forth.”

The minister noted that he cannot make such a decision alone. “There is the opinion of the Shin Bet (General Security Service) and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories. They are certainly not political people. Only after they tell me in writing that they strongly suggest [a permit be revoked] do I perform the formal act.”

Al-Madani, the minister said, “is not an innocent person who thinks about brotherhood and peace between Jews and Arabs.”

“Questions Hour” is a new parliamentary feature in the Knesset’s plenary sessions. Each year, the opposition has the right to invite 10 ministers to answer questions they did not see in advance. One of those times, it can be the prime minister. At least three-quarters of the questioners must come from the ranks of the opposition.

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