Liberman in the north:
'We will maintain Israeli interests in Syria'

DM tours border to assess progress of fortification plan. 'With all due respect for all the agreements - we are not bound by them.'

Kobi Finkler,

Liberman in north
Liberman in north
Ariel Hermoni, Defense Ministry

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman toured the communities adjacent to the fence on the northern border Thursday morning in order to assess the progress of the plan he initiated to fortify northern communities, which was recently approved by the cabinet.

The Defense Minister visited, among other places, Metula, Kiryat Shmona, Zarit and Shlomi - where he met with council heads from the north.

At the end of the meeting, Liberman said, "The goal is to examine all the communities adjacent to the fence, first of all, and in addition I held a meeting with the mayors on the confrontation line, with an emphasis on the communities up to 9 kilometers (5.6 miles) from the border. First of all, in terms of the priorities of the Ministry of Defense, this year we identified 21 communities near the fence as having priority for us, in terms of the care and investment of the Home Front Command, of the National Emergency Authority, of all the bodies involved in the treatment of communities near the fence. This year, we raised 220 million shekels (61 million dollars) for the whole treatment, both in communities near the fence and in all public shelters and all educational and welfare institutions within a range of up to 9 kilometers from the border, and even up to 20 kilometers from the border."

"I would also like to thank the heads of the local authorities for the cooperation between the Unit for Settlement of the Ministry of Defense, the National Emergency Authority, Home Front Command, the Northern Command, the Chief of Staff, Regional Defense officers, the heads of the local authorities and the security officers. There is cooperation here which is rare and we are already seeing the results," he added.

According to the defense minister, "We intend to deal with all the elements: warning, escape routes, warning systems and, of course, shelters. In the second stage I will also get into treatment of the bomb shelters, and every home, practically speaking, every resident on the confrontation line and in communities near the fence must also have a bomb shelter and not just a public shelter.”

"When everyone knows you will know, and not a second earlier," Liberman replied to a question about the appointment of the next chief of staff. "Beyond that, if you have already mentioned it, what is important is to pay attention to all the changes across the border. I mean what is happening in Syria. We see various gatherings in different places, in Ankara, in Tehran, in Geneva, in other places as well, they are talking after the battle for Idlib on the redesign of Syria.”

"From the point of view of the State of Israel, with all due respect and esteem for all the agreements and all understandings - it is not binding for us. What binds us is solely the security interest of the State of Israel. All the other agreements they reach in all sorts of places simply are irrelevant as far as we’re concerned. We will be scrupulous to maintain all previous agreements and the security interests of Israel," he stressed.