Liberman: Talks about annexation aren't helpful

Defense Minister criticizes calls by Naftali Bennett to annex Maaleh Adumim, saying they do not help Israel.

Elad Benari,

Avigdor Liberman
Avigdor Liberman
Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu) on Tuesday evening criticized calls by Jewish Home chairman and Education Minister Naftali Bennett to annex Maaleh Adumim, saying such calls “do not help”.

"When I hear an uproar every day, with calls to apply Israeli sovereignty and the Regulation Law – what wisdom is there in this? It does not help anything, it harms the settlement enterprise and harms our diplomatic efforts,” Liberman said at a gathering of the Yisrael Beytenu party in Petah Tikva.

"We should not seek to provoke others by force. Everything needs to be done quietly, wisely, and with determination. When Begin passed the Golan Heights Law he did it in three readings on the same day without any noise," he added.

"Maybe people gain electoral votes [with such calls], but this gain is offset by a diplomatic loss and damage to the settlement enterprise," claimed Liberman.

"These uproars do not lead to anything. It is clear that it is all talk. To be serious, you must maintain a consensus. That's the difference between the pragmatic right and the dogmatic right,” he continued. “We are talking first of all about the unity of the people, even before the wholeness of the land. That is the most important thing and we must preserve it, otherwise we will lose all our assets."

Though he did not specifically mention Bennett’s name, Liberman was obviously referring to the Education Minister’s announcement this week that he would submit a bill in the Knesset to apply Israeli law to Maaleh Adumim.

"We are continuing today in the footsteps of Levi Eshkol, who applied [Israeli] law to Jerusalem, of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who founded Maaleh Adumim, and of Menachem Begin, who applied [Israeli] sovereignty to the Golan. Today we continue in Maaleh Adumim and then to other parts of the country," Bennett said.

On Saturday night, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) spoke about the possibility of annexing Maaleh Adumim, as well as the rest of Area C.

Liberman’s comments are in line with his recent call on the Israeli government to hold off passing the Regulation Law, and other moves intended to strengthen Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, until U.S. President-elect Donald Trump takes office on January 20.

The Jewish Home fired back at Liberman on Tuesday night.

"Liberman himself submitted a law calling for the annexation of Maaleh Adumim, so instead of talking and blabbing he should focus on stopping the PA from paying terrorists and take care of [Ismail] Haniyeh," the party said, referring to Liberman’s promise that he would eliminate the Hamas leader as one of his first orders of business as Defense Minister – a promise which he has yet to fulfill.