Photo Credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/ Flash90
In 2018, Gazan protesters at the border with Israel stepped on a picture of then-Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman.

Israel Beiteinu Chairman MK Avigdor Liberman announced right after October 7 that he is willing and able to join a wall-to-wall Netanyahu government without preconditions but has remained in the opposition because he wasn’t offered a seat at the war cabinet table. Unlike Opposition Chairman MK Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) who demanded the expulsion of Ministers Itamar Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich before he joined the government, Liberman’s refusal to join was not politically motivated. He was eager to influence security decisions, not play cheerleader to the real decision-makers.

In a Thursday interview in Maariv, Liberman sketched a decisive approach to Israel’s security needs for the coming ten years: increase the defense budget significantly, produce all the ammunition for the IDF in Israel, and stop relying only on the Air Force.


Liberman, who in 2018 resigned as Netanyahu’s defense minister over the decision to declare a truce with Hamas (Liberman wanted to move in and destroy Hamas), is now offering his latest solution to the deterioration in the relationship between Israel and the “Palestinians.”

PM Netanyahu made headlines this week with his rejection of giving the Palestinian Authority any control over Gaza after the war. Bibi was bold and defiant but has also chosen to not openly say what should be done in Gaza the day after, absent a PA takeover, realizing that by not openly stating a policy, he keeps the reservists united and makes it much more difficult for Israel’s opponents to block those options in advance.


Liberman told Ynet this week that Israel must revert to the pre-1994-Oslo reality, invite Jordan to take over Area A in Judea and Samaria and invite Egypt to renew its rule over the Gaza Strip.

“This is the only plan and the only chance to reach order and stability if we insist and remain sufficiently determined and strong. It’s the only thing that can bring some kind of stability. It is forbidden to bring the Palestinian Authority to Gaza, nor a multinational force.”

Liberman has also proposed in the past the “triangle” area south of Haifa be given over to the PA. Thank God his version of Land for Peace has never happened.

Egyptian Military Police, June 29, 2011. / Gigi Ibrahim from Cairo, Egypt

Liberman’s vision is not compatible with the national-religious agenda for the liberated territories, it does not include a plan for voluntary emigration of the majority of “Palestinians”, but it is also more likely to appeal to the secular center-right voters who just want an end to the never-ending security threat, not that this idea would provide that.

It so happens that the current war cabinet is comprised purely of politicians such as Benjamin Netanyahu, Benny Gantz, and Gadi Eisenkot who created and cultivated the conceptzia that suggested Hamas had been deterred in 2014 and since then could be plied with money.

Naturally, the entire IDF brass of the past decade was also well inside the conceptzia echo chamber, and they, too, are running the war pending a future commission of inquiry that will surely clip their wings, the metaphoric and the ones above their breast pockets.

The short list of major politicians who did not fall prey to the conceptzia includes Itamar Ben Gvir, Bezalel Smotrich, Naftali Bennett, and Avigdor Liberman. And all four, for different reasons, are being kept away from the war cabinet.


In his Maariv interview, Liberman advocated that “the defense budget should immediately be increased from NIS 70 billion ($19.07 billion) a year to NIS 95 billion ($25.89 billion), at least for ten years. There is no choice, everything here is built on wrong policies and a distorted perception of reality. We received the proof on October 7. Now we need to fix it.”

Asked what he sees as requiring a change in the IDF, Liberman answered, “Everything.”

He elaborated: “Let’s start with the wrong power usage policy. Everything today is based on the superiority of the Air Force and this is at the expense of ground maneuvers. As if you don’t need tanks anymore and you don’t need boots on the ground. I have sat in many such discussions and told the participants that they were talking and doing nonsense. When you look at it, you realize that there is no decision without maneuvering, tanks are of great importance, and ground infantry units are of great importance. And what is the main weapon? Unequivocally, it’s missiles. Missiles in general and precision missiles in particular make the difference.”

On November 4, 2009, the Israeli Navy intercepted a shipment of over 300 tons of weapons from Iran bound for Hezbollah. / IDF

Liberman contends that the IDF has simply missed the age of missiles. Incidentally, this was the central theme in Maj. Gen. Yitzhak Brik’s sharp criticism of the IDF before October 7: while Hezbollah and Hamas amassed an arsenal of hundreds of thousands of missiles, each costing pennies, the IDF relied on billion-dollar warplanes and completely neglected the option of a missile corps, capable of saturating enemy territory with accurate and devastating fire at a fraction of the cost.

“Today the Air Force is doing everything it can to stifle the idea of a missile corps,” says Liberman, who views the success of the Air Force as the root of the conceptzia that led to October 7.

“Before I left the defense ministry, I said that we should develop five types of missiles – from small and accurate missiles up to missiles that can reach further out (Iran and the Houthis – DI),” Liberman recalled. “They told me then that we would produce utility missiles, that is, multi-use missiles that you can launch from a plane, a ship, or the ground. I said OK. We started with a short-range missile, very accurate, you can launch it from the northern border to the Damascus area.

“But you need launchers to shoot it. And then I found out they didn’t make launchers. As a result, the situation is that it can be launched from a plane, but not from the ground.”

This brings Liberman to his favorite 800-pound gorilla in the room, the Air Force: 

“The problem with the Air Force is the amount of missiles Hezbollah has and their level of accuracy. When war breaks out, I expect Hezbollah will try to paralyze the Air Force and the airfields. They will turn the runways into a shooting gallery. There will be problems in taking off. Anyone who denies this is wrong.

“Our hardened aircraft shelters are obsolete. Over the years they saved in these areas and this is how it looks. If there’s a war with Iran and Hezbollah, they will first attack the air force bases, and we must strengthen them, rebuild the hardened aircraft shelters, create reconstruction teams, learn how to deal with destruction and chaos.”

Liberman has had it up to here with the Air Force, as he told Maariv on Thursday: When I was defense minister, I recognized a lot of arrogance on the part of the Air Force. They know everything, they are not ready to accept criticism, comment, or advice, and the commander of the Air Force is always the wisest and the greatest.”

I for one have no trouble accepting Liberman’s assessment of both the hellish nightmare which is still around the corner, and the fact that the IDF, and especially the IAF, are not ready to defend against it.

If you were wondering why the Pentagon has seen fit to move an entire armada, complete with two of its biggest aircraft carriers to Israel’s corner of the Mediterranean – Liberman’s might be a satisfactory explanation.


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