Liberman at the border
Liberman at the border Ariel Hermoni, Defense Ministry

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman visited the Kuneitra crossing on the Israel-Syria border this morning, along with Northern Regional Commander Maj. Gen. Yoel Strik, and other senior officers.

The Defense Minister heard a security briefing on IDF readiness to open the Kuneitra crossing and told reporters that Israel has no desire to intervene in the civil war inside Syria.

"The very fact that we arrived here, to the Alpha gate, and as far as we are concerned, the UNDOF force began to operate and tour with IDF assistance, meaning that we're ready to open the crossing as it was before. In terms of the ability to operate the crossing, both from a security and an administrative point of view, everything is ready and done."

Liberman stressed, "What I will say is that we'll ensure that every article and section of the separation agreement from 1974 is met. We scrutinize ourselves every day, we're in daily contact with the soldiers of UNDOF, who are here to our right. Anyone who looks at the tower will see the soldiers of UNDOF working and opening the roads, so I hope that life will return here to normal routine."

Asked whether opening the Kuneitra crossing was not a recognition of Assad's sovereignty, the Defense Minister replied: "We've never changed the line; we said that we're not interfering, that's the Syrians' interest. As far as I'm concerned, Assad isn't a friend. He's a war criminal, and all those international bodies that are so concerned about human rights - I don't see them acting on the Syrian side and ask for clarifications from Assad or the regime. It's none of our business."

Liberman referred to the felled Russian plane and Putin's decision to transfer advanced air defenses to Assad. "First of all, we value our relations with Russia, and security coordination between the Russian army and the IDF is very important. We're also sorry for the loss of the 15 Russian officers and soldiers. At the same time, we have no interest in conducting a media dialogue with Russia. All that's needed, and there are many contacts and much coordination, is in the secret channels.

"As far as we're concerned, it's clear to anyone who goes a little deeper that the entire responsibility for downing the Russian plane is on the Syrian army. All the rest we will discuss with them in the regular forums."

Liberman was asked how much relations between Jerusalem and Moscow had been damaged and he replied, "We continue to coordinate security, and as we've already clarified several times, we have no interest in conducting a media dialogue with the Russians. We have ways to communicate."

The Defense Minister referred to Trump's support for establishing a Palestinian state and evaded: "The Palestinian state simply doesn't interest me. What interests me is the Jewish State, and here there are many more acute problems than slogans.

"It's that in the State of Israel there are 20% of the Arab population that comes out time after time for demonstrations, protests, with Palestinian flags and not with Israeli flags. I have a problem with this and that's the real problem. We have to take care of the Jewish State and everything else is less interesting."

Liberman was asked whether a Palestinian state was part of the Israeli interest and he replied "the Israeli interest is a Jewish state; a Jewish state and a safe one. All the rest interests us less."