Liberman strikes dovish tone in first IDF meeting

'Pragmatic' Avigdor Liberman strikes notably dovish tone in first meeting with army's top generals.

Hezki Baruch,

Avigdor Liberman
Avigdor Liberman
Miriam Alster/Flash 90

Newly-appointed Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman met with the IDF's top generals Tuesday afternoon, where he received his first briefing as defense minister from the military's top brass.

In the meeting, Liberman - who many have cast as a hardliner, but who has vowed to be "pragmatic" since coalition talks with the prime minister began - continued to toe a more dovish line.

"The IDF and its commanders are the widest consensus among the Israeli public, and this is the most important asset to the army," Liberman said. "We must protect this asset at all costs, and there is no body more suitable to be responsible for not only the operational competency of IDF soldiers, but also over the national morale, than us."

"When there is a conflict between the values of the unity of the nation or the wholeness of the land, the unity of the nation comes first," Liberman continued, echoing a line often used by politicians who advocate territorial concessions.

Liberman vowed to work "24/7" for the sake of the IDF, and added "I believe in political pragmatism and military might." 

The relatively inexperienced defense minister also emphasized that he was entering office "with an open mind."

He also thanked "my predecessor, (former) Minister 'Bogie' Ya'alon, with whom I many times differed with" on policy, but who he acknowledged "made many significant contribution to the security of Israel."

Liberman has been cast as a hardliner in many parts of the media, as well as by the US government, which recently voiced its displeasure over his party's inclusion in the Israeli coalition government.

But Liberman has worked hard to dispel that image, in recent days emphasizing his support for a two-state solution and vowing to be "pragmatic" - prompting concern and criticism from other right-wing MKs.




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