Despite Hawkish Rhetoric, Israeli Defense Chief Did Not Oppose Humanitarian Aid in Gaza

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Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman during the weekly cabinet meeting in the prime minister's offices in Jerusalem on June 10, 2018
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman during the weekly cabinet meeting in the prime minister's offices in Jerusalem on June 10, 2018Credit: \ POOL/ REUTERS

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman does not rule out humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip despite claiming the opposite in public, according to sources present at a security cabinet meeting on Sunday. This duality has reportedly drawn mockery from a fellow cabinet member and minister.

The security cabinet debated the deepening humanitarian crisis in Gaza for more than three hours on Sunday. No new decisions were taken regarding humanitarian relief, with participants discussing previously approved infrastructure programs, mainly water, sewage and electricity.

Sources present during the discussion said that contrary to the harsh rhetoric taken in media interviews, Lieberman presented a much milder stance before the security cabinet on the subject of relief for Gaza, and did not rule out the security establishment's recommendation to promote humanitarian aid for the Strip even without seting preliminary conditions from Hamas.

During an interview on Sunday for Army Radio, Lieberman called the stance that humanitarian relief for Gaza would stop Hamas' terrorism "hallucinations and delusions."

At one point during the inner cabinet meeting, Lieberman left the room, which led Construction and Housing Minister Yoav Galant, a former IDF general, to quip that Lieberman was like "dual-use material," as to mean he switches opinions in and out of the room. Dual-use material is a term used by military personnel to describe materials that can be used for both civilian and terrorist activities. It is used frequently in cabinet meetings in relation to the blockade on Gaza, and the possibility to allow the entry of such materials in order to rehabilitate civilian infrastructures in the Strip.

Both Lieberman's and Galant's bureaus responded that they do not speak on discussions held within the cabinet.

However, in response to reports on Sunday claiming there were differences on certain topics between Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot and Lieberman, the minister's bureau released a statement saying: "The defense minister and chief of staff are in sync with their stances and have no rifts between them."

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