Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, in suit, meeting with officials in Sderot. Photo by Eliyahu Hershkowitz
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Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman became the object of protest on Wednesday in front of Sderot's city hall by a crowd from the nearby tent encampment seeking social justice and housing.

The minister, head of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, said: "We've come to provide solutions and not to spout slogans. We have reasonable solutions, and for us our word is our word. In outlying parts of the country alone, in the Negev and the Galilee, there are 4,000 housing units that have already been approved for construction, and the state needs to advance infrastructure there." He referred to the protesters as "loudmouths for hire."

Sderot lies close to the Gaza Strip and has suffered for years from periodic rocket attacks, and Lieberman, in a reference to the Israel's new missile defense system, said: "You need to remember that Iron Dome also costs money. Israel's defense costs are among the highest in the world."

The minister added: "We have a detailed economic plan, a portion of which is giving day care free to children up to 3 and 4 years of age. Yisrael Beiteinu is strong in its actions, not [just] in words."

In addressing the needs of demobilized soldiers, Lieberman said: "We want to give soldiers a grant worth three salary [payments], three months before their discharge." On the housing issue, Lieberman suggested that building contractors who don't undertake construction on plots for which building has been approved be fined, and that a special tax should be imposed on apartments that stand empty.

The Yisrael Beiteinu leader said he would present his plans in detail at a conference of his party scheduled for tomorrow.

With regard to defense spending, Lieberman said: "We are a country in which the defense budget has major importance, and it must be taken into account. Cuts in the defense budget must not be conducted through the media."

"We are fighting for our home, not loudmouths for hire," one of the demonstrators said in response to Lieberman.