tv Israeli Defense Minister on Middle East Security CSPAN April 27, 2018 10:36pm-11:37pm EDT
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from the washington institute, this is just under one hour. >> i am delighted to welcome all of you this morning to our institution for this very special event. guest was kind enough to remember that events in the middle east took him away a year ago when he was due to come and speak at this institution. although there is no s hortage of tragic events going on in the middle east today, we are grateful to him and his team and delegation for making time
in this important mission to come and speak to the washington institute. list alleally have to of the issues that confront israeli security today. you need to only look at the headlines and the map and see that virtually every front surrounding israel, there is red ink, the ink of challenge and threat going from lebanon and syria, from gaza to the sinai. it is the responsibility of our guest today to address these issues. in both the political and military sense, israel's response to security challenges near and far. celebrates,s israel
by the american calendar, its 70th anniversary. our guest is somewhat of a poster child for the scientist experience -- zionist e xperiment. zionist family in the holy land, but someone who can to israel and credit for himself a new life, a career, and important role at the top of the leadership of his country. it doesn't happen very much in countries anymore. this is one of the great embodiments of what it means to have a jewish state. our guest is the founder and leader of the israel party and head of the ministry of defense
since 2016. he has served in the israeli parliament since 1999. in that time he is served as the beauty prime minister, foreign minister, minister of infrastructure, minister of transportation, and mr. of strategic affairs. in other words, there are few ministries avigdor liberman has not offered leadership and commitment, and his determination to support israel. we are delighted he is here with us and i've invited mr. lieberman stauffer remarks. and then he and i will sit down impromptun conversation about the entire range of issues facing israeli security. i would like to ask everyone to please put your cell phones on silent. on the record evidence, we are beaming life with c-span.
theare free to tweak out brilliant remarks of our guest, but these keep your cell phones on silent. gentlemen, avigdor liberman. [applause] >> good morning and think it for the opportunity to express my views. to your marks in i am happy toion, see the headlines today is not regarding the middle east. saw is veryreally remarkable meeting in korea peninsula. news.really good point, as you mentioned, they came to israel
as a repatriate. i can to israel was 20 years old. the fact that they are minister of defense is another illustration that israel is more american. in america the sky is the limit, and i don't know any other country where you come as a young guy without background and like ine and language, washington with the minister of defense. it is a phenomenon. other short introduction from my side -- you know for many years the first issue in is ourand middle east,
dispute with palestinians. there was misrepresentation or misunderstanding at our dispute is the heartians of the middle east conflict. since the arab spring, everybody understands that there is no linkage between our dispute with , or civil warns in syria, or the situation in libya, or the complicated situation in iraq or lebanon. for many years the palestinian issue was only an excuse to failure and domestic
issues. to that it was very easy incite crowds and blame israel in all domestic problems. becauseremark, seeybody asks me how you the middle east. realpe to achieve one day, peace in israel and the middle east. i think it is really something not realistic, i think it is an illusion and the biggest problem in the middle east is not israel but arab society. what we in my opinion, see in the arab world, i don't two states living in peace
with one another. it is 99% conflict, not bloodshed in the middle east. it is not between jews and muslims, it is between muslims themselves with a connection to israel. in syria come up than half a million people are killed and slaughtered. every day hundreds of people are killed and injured. in the middle east, libya, yemen, saddam, syria and iraq, who cares? see the news on all channels. you can see football, basketball, and some other news. but here you cannot see one
report about hundreds of people killed in the middle east every day. of the middleem , in my opinion, of the arab society, the middle class doesn't exist. for peaceful policy and readiness to coexist and accept different people and different states, you need a strong middle class. if i take for example the most successful countries in the --ld, like norway, sweden 90% of population is very strong and successful middle-class. 3% -- the other, who knows. in the arab society is completely different. population is
suffering poverty, misery, no hope. and it is a young society. if you take for example, you of arabthe demographics muslim states and european states, they are clearly different. peoplearab world, 70% of are very young, 35 years old and younger. unemployment among the young population. it is a crazy situation. israel proved our desire to achieve a real peace. we gave up sinai
and signed a peace agreement with egypt. , frome up half of jordan the gaza strip to the very last results. we see the i cannot understand what demand we have from the gaza strip. we evacuated 21 settlements. 10,000uated more than jews back to israel. establish industrial jobs for people in gaza. remember my last conversation with our late prime
minister, before this engagement, he asked what are you doing are smart and he explained he wants to create an opportunity for palestinian canle to prove that day lead their own state, and he said you will see one day, the singlerip will be a process of the middle east. when we speak about tough situation in the gaza strip. i expected the people will ask what the reasons for this tough --uation within has a strip gaza strip. first of all, hamas is people from gaza and
investing all of this money and missiles, and are not ready to diverge even one dollar from missiles to the benefit of the people. not to invest money in electricity or water management, medicine, nothing. for them, all of the money is to destroy the state of israel. that they stopon refunding to every support to the gaza strip, quitting payment for electricity, water, etc. frictionslso trying along the border. people reallyif pay attention. what are their demands?
side-by-side with israel in peace. not to create jobs. but to destroy the state of israel. aking up talking about taking over the jews from tel aviv to haifa, and not a demand for negotiations for peace, opposite. mentionedrse, you challenges we are facing around our borders. may be facing more challenges than any other country in the world. in the south of the gaza strip we have hamas and islamic jihad. in sinai we have islamic state. lebanon we have hezbollah.
ty al qaeda.ave free our reality, we are trained to manage the situation. moderntrying to create society. at the same time, to protect ourselves. it is really a huge challenge. we have succeeded with our challenges. thank you. [applause] thank you for those opening remarks. let me begin with their trip here to washington. it is a appropriate place to start.
you met the last couple of days with senior american officials. the white house, pentagon, what can you come away with when you return to israel in terms of your sense from the administration about understanding your security challenges and any new understandings with washington and how to address them? i will specifically focus on the syria front in this regard. , we have veryl good friends in washington. politicalonly thinksts or security, i two statesasons share the same values and the strong climate to democracy and the freedom of speech.
especially in washington. in the middleand east to keep democracy, it is a big challenge. we are an open society. sometimes i feel especially with our press, not only with my capacity, but with more americans in america, it is a real friendship. i think there is also deepened her standing of how big the challenge is for israel to handle at the same time all threats that you mentioned and i mentioned. especially with syria. this kind of regime that kills his own people.
others, especially hezbollah and iran, and everybody is asking, what about the russians? first of all, the russians, they have their priorities and interests. russians don'tis hate israel and don't destroy the state of israel is the right policy. opposite hezbollah or iran, every day you see another state that it is their intention and policy to destroy the state of israel. the russians have their own interests, and it is not our interests.
but we trying to keep open channels and open lines. policy,the confliction we tried direct conflict with russia. we have enough problems. it works. americans also. they keep their channels, and we tried to concentrate on the iranian issue. with due respect to our army and israel, at the end of the day we are a small country and not a world power. our official policy is not to interfere in the domestic issues within syria. there is enough powers and security council in the u.n. and european union and arab league.
it is their problem, not our problem. and what we will not allow is for iranians to syria against israel. we clarified our position in washington and around the world. i think there is understanding in washington to our challenges. we discussed and have some understanding, and we have corporation. , and we good relations have one real strategic
alliance, united states. with you leave washington any confidence or more confidence united states will be , or theg in syria relief washington with the sense that the united states will be removing its troops from syria from the not too distant future? >> quite frankly, i don't know, it is not our business and i am not in position to give advice to the american administration. that there is understanding to our concern regarding the and then in syria, situation in, it is possible to idge from syria to iran.
if you want one huge shiite everybody-- i think in washington understands what it means, and we explained our position. you will make right decisions here. >> you were quoted recently every, we will destroy site we see an attempt from iraq to position itself militarily in syria. it will not allow it at all costs. there are thousands of iranians -- malicious in syria militias in syria. what is israel's redline in syria? >> i think there is a misunderstanding with iranian
presence in syria. is iranianak about military base in every part of syria. it is presence we will not allow. if they are smuggling drugs, or have some business, even if they are only in the capacity of advisors. it is another story. space,establish military it doesn't matter if it is aerospace or navy hub or some base for their ground operations, will not allow it. is this position we expect to everybody in the world. we have determination to protect ourselves.
>> people here and elsewhere turn to you for special insight 'sto understanding russia strategy. how do you evaluate what russia really wants in syria, and what the limits of russian objectives are. the debate on united states on that russia-iranian relationship. can we divide russia from iran? would you think the possibilities are here? think it is the right start withr me to analysis about russia. but what is important to understand is that the russians
are pragmatic players. at the end of the day, it is possible to close a deal with them. interests andthe is different from power, but we respect their priorities. we have our priorities were of theto avoid the rest .rictions and pensions but they are pragmatic. when the problems middle east is you have too many non-pragmatic and unreasonable guys. is the biggest problem. for people from the islamic state and al qaeda, and are not pragmatic. it is a problem.
also when you speak with her news -- also good when you speak with arab people, it is good news, the first and they understand that the threat for them is that israel or jews, but right callista groups within their society -- but radical groups within their society. i think russia, like every power .n the world, have interests get the russian political dream since the 18th century. in theresence mediterranean, they have presence there at the sea, and
it is not our business. we try only to protect our security interests and to keep our security interests. only issue of compromise is that it is our security. >> does it give you any particular concern that the first time, when you look to the ,orth, we see russian presence and russian control of syria, but americans are far away? >> our concern is iranians and hezbollah. and the and hezbollah readiness to sacrifice their own people. pragmatic, reasonable guys, some are reasonable guys. what we are facing with iran is
a crazy situation in the 21st century. are in a difficult economic situation. there is problems and troubles within iran, with inflation. it is a complicated situation. still, it is very shaky within iran. and despite all of their domestic problems, they continue ofbe the biggest sponsor terror activities. they spend $2 billion every year for this crazy support for terror. lebanon, hezbollah, hamas,
islamic jihad in the gaza strip. the tribes in yemen. iraq -- had militias in the shiite militias in iraq. they have their own domestic problems. syria sinced in about $13 billion. we think it is the biggest problem, of a phonetic fanaticip -- leadership. they are crazy. their leader. but wer had a problem,
have one now with their leadership and their ideology. ine one day we see today, the korean peninsula, to establish good relations with iran in people. we will see political change. we will see other leadership. we don't have any dispute with they and their main political goal is to destroy the state of israel, because of fanatic ideology. >> this lease to the next couple of questions i want to ask you you are here in auspicious week. you are in good company with the president of france and the chancellor of germany. are here to impart and commits president trump not to withdraw the united states from the iran nuclear deal. you are quoted as saying, europe
is wrong again. in the past coming europeans made the mistake when they sign the munich agreement with germany. we all know what happened, and used the analogy to describe the iran their deal today. game. it is a guessing what do think president trump is going to do? >> first of all, i completely agree with me again. [laughter] think the west has gone soft and lost their political will and determination. the deal with the iranians for something i cannot understand. the iranians are cheating the west, and their political goal is not only nuclear energy for peace.
ofy need in addition peaceful nuclear energy, they need ballistic missiles to spread this peaceful ballistic energy all over the world. their approach to the minorities, freedom of speech, terror.y, about funding you have every state department and the report on states that they are sponsors of with terror movements in the world. place inis the first the biggest sponsor of terror. they knoweverything, iran, the iranian missile
with an inscription. they deny the holocaust. despite these facts, they are supportive of this mobility with iraq. first of all, it is our obligation and commitment as jews to remain in our history. say, we will destroy the state of israel. we can only imagine if they achieve their weapons. possible tone it is discuss publicly, how the succeededis serious achievedia and assad
in getting a nuclear bomb. i think it is a huge mistake for the west with this agreement and nuclear deal with iran. in situation is similar as 1938 the munich agreement. the west sacrificed czechoslovakia. had a bad feeling regarding their commitment to our security. and will not take any chance. thate you suggesting countries that support the nuclear agreement are appeasing iran and sacrificing israel's security, like how czechoslovakia was sacrificed? >> i think it is mission
impossible. it is clear they only understand the tough language. economic benefits that the ,chieved from this nuclear deal created inability to finance -- created an ability for syria w sport hezbollah and militias. supportear that iranian not to hamas, not to islamic jihad, and are not able to exist even one week. about 85% of their budget includes hezbollah, militias, and the islamic jihad, comes
from iran. mistake inis a huge their understanding. it is a bad message, and it is our position. i am not in position to give advice for this administration. it is completely unnecessary, but it is our position. israel's adjusted if there's further escalation with iran because of its presence in syria, that iran itself might not be off-limits from israeli retaliation. it back terror. i hope the horror is only movie
, like in american movies, not a reality. they are smart enough not to provoke us, and not to create a new conflict. interests is against that we don'tn have any ambitions to the store iran. timewe need is security, come and possibility to develop our economy, science, technology. nation.s a third world with and have ambitions to come back to gaza, syria. please, forget about us.
>> let's turn to the situation on the gaza border, which he spoke about earlier in your remarks. run-up to may 15. we have seen various levels of border conflicts. what do you expect? you think there will be an entirely new level of conflict? how would you evaluate your own response to dealing with the conflict over the last number of weeks? a newst of all, i hope conflict with the people in gaza -- as i mentioned, we don't have to come back to
the gaza strip. not to establish new settlements, nothing. you have your gaza strip, please concentrate on your efforts to new entity.ciety, it is not our business. provoke usy tried to , toto launch missiles damage our sovereignty, to penetrate to israel, we will do everything to prevent. can you imagine launching a missile on a sovereign american territory and what the response will be? russia,hing missiles on china, what will be their
response? we give up the very last inch, every day we have another terrorist activity against our people. sovereignty, against our powers, everything. is unbelievable. justify it.o testify they use their children and women as a human shield. you never see leaders of hamas on the front line. they are behind the children and women. we are trying to avoid avoid -- that the end of the day i will not allow
them to jeopardize our security. >> what is the strategic solution for gaza? the head of the palestinian authority doesn't want to move into gaza until hamas yields its guns. how is it likely hamas will do so? how do you square the circle? is there a solution out there? >> i think a solution is reconstruction for the militarization. it is my view and my approach. think it is the obligation of the people of gaza to propose this fanatic leadership -- this fanatic organization, to replace with normal people. jobs andady to create
establish industrial zones, as it was in the past. infrastructures, electricity, water, everything. but, we need the clear uperstanding that they gave their intention to destroy the state of israel. they changed the paragraphs they about oureir chapter right to exist. to demands to mechanize israel. -- demands to recognize israel.
putting money in a military and they complain about the economic situation. the hamas and military wing budget was $260 million. instead of investing that money in health care or education, they are investing against israel. >> the militarization for reconstruction. >> is the one approach. responsible for the west bank. there is no publicly active peace process at the moment, that the west bank -- >> no process. >> the west bank israel
typically quiet. can you say a few words about security cooperation in your relationship with the palestinian authority? think we mustl, i ask another question. why are we still in a deadlock with the palestinians, despite we signed in oslo accord to the five years ago -- 25 years ago? to speak frankly, i am a very , i am a right-wing. it is a very right-wing government in israel. [laughter] the question, the failure to achieve some agreement or strategic break with the
different dimensions. it is our relations with the arab state. our relations with the palestinians. and our relations with israeli arabs. resolve, at the simultaneously, all of our problems with the arab world. not just the palestinians. the palestinians are not able to sign an agreement, they are not a heavyweight, and they do not have capacity. to speak frankly, the palestinian authority does not exist. they have two different entities.
their elections to the palestinian authority, when they are supposed be held in january if they went sure according to the constitution, has a legitimate right to send an agreement on behalf of the palestinian people. even with all these problems, i in an annapolis -- i the mosted when i saw generous offer. offer, at the end of the day, they said no, and refused to sign a final status agreement.
and the demonstrations in this bilateral framework is impossible to achieve a real solution with the palestinians. part of the regional, copperheads of solution. -- it should be part of a solution comprehensive for the israeli arabs. of themest part identify themselves as palestinians. i think it is very crucial. tois the biggest issue, continue the same things, to hope that the result will be a different result. i explained in the past, it is politically correct to say it is the main approach. thatur opening remark is
real peace is an illusion. >> i think i said it is a solution. you need to democratic societies, and a strong middle class. somalia -- the economic situation is much better the gaza strip. because, he visited washington , he has nore interest to establish stronger economy. prosperity for palestinian authority. he speaks in slogans.
for a dependent state unique capacity and the economy and jobs. we need education. is not only to have a declaration. independence costs a lot of money. invest theirld efforts to create a stronger economy. >> i have to ask you this question. what is heard for years from various political leaders here, israel, and elsewhere. the current situation is unsustainable. is it in fact very sustainable? the middle east is the middle east. shaky and is very unsustainable, and unpredictable.
everything is unpredictable. what the future is for gaza, or palestinians and what happensia, with the arab league. eastroblems in the middle is like connected vessels. yemen, the sinai, egypt, problems with the islamic state. to hope it is possible in this small part of the middle east, israel and palestinians to likeve real stable peace, france and germany and france and italy.
is a very naive approach. we need to achieve this strategic breakthrough with our wealth, strong leadership. it is from both sides, we saw a strong and charismatic leaders, with huge support within society. 112 members voted and supported this agreement between israel and egypt. vote sought encouragement toward the -- got the support of a huge majority. >> do you think the new leadership in saudi arabia is
the 21st century >> i don't know. to speak frankly, we hope that it's moderate, modern leadership and they will lead real modernization and open approach to our problems also. but it's crucial for them also, not only for israel. i really believe in regional solution. it will change only the least, first of all the arab world. israel, it's start-up nation with strong economy, with science, with everything. the combination between us start-up nation and financial
power together, combination of our mutual efforts will change middle east in both levels, economy and, of course, security. i think it's their interest like us. not less. >> we're running out of time. i can't let you go without at least asking a couple of political questions. i hope you don't mind. do you think your coalition will stay the full term, or do you see early elections coming? >> i think it's maybe more stable coalition that they only remember. i don't see any interest among all parties for early elections. i don't see elections before next year.
maybe it will be some months before. it's really very, very stable coalition. i don't see early elections. >> you have served, as i said earlier, you served in -- i'm not going to say every, but almost every senior position in an israeli government. except one. can we imagine you being a candidate for prime minister? i hope that you would ask if i want to be minister of cultural sport. no, but i think that i really served our country in many, many positions and many capacities. so politicians, i try my best. but i'm not crazy in politics. i remember, there are people in politics that for them it's everything.
there are people that for them it's only an option. for me, it's only an option. i really enjoy this job, this capacity. it's a huge responsibility. i feel really very, very good in this position. who knows what will be in the future? >> ladies and gentlemen, please join me in thanking minister of defense, victor lieberman. [applause]
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