TEL AVIV – Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman unveiled a new “carrot and stick” plan on Wednesday to punish Palestinians who support terrorism while bestowing privileges on those who don’t.
“It’s very simple”, the Defense Minister said. “We’ll give benefits to those who live normal lives and want to coexist [with Israel], and we’ll take harsh [measures] against those who wish to do us harm.”
Under the new plan, Liberman intends to impose punitive measures on Palestinian villages in the West Bank that have had a disproportionately high number of homegrown terrorists, including taking away permits to work in Israel and subjecting the villages to additional IDF security checks.
“No one wants a Molotov cocktail thrown at them in the middle of the night and no one wants [soldiers] coming into their house in the middle of the night for searches and arrests,” Liberman said.
At present, the plan intends to give additional benefits to 15 Palestinian villages which have not harbored terrorists and have kept the peace with Israel. Included in Liberman’s list of benefits were the construction of medical centers, sports fields, and industrial zones.
Before his appointment as Defense Minister in June, Liberman pledged that were he to be chosen for the position he would “crush the terror wave.”
One of the proposals he raised in the past was the option of deporting the families of terrorists, something that he now states is “not legally tenable.”
He also raised his objections to the policy of returning the bodies of terrorists killed while carrying out attacks to their families, something that has put him at loggerheads with both Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit and the Shin Bet security service.
“It’s funny that you have two government offices with two different policies, and therefore I will bring up this topic again at the next cabinet meeting,” he said.
“If Mandelblit does not uphold the position of the High Court of Justice [to suspend the return of the bodies], I will do it myself. But if the Supreme Court decides otherwise, against my position, I will honor that as I have done in the past,” he said.
“I can disagree with the Shin Bet too,” Liberman added.
Mandelblit said in response that there are no “security conditions” that “justify the total prevention of returning bodies.”
As part of his new plan, Liberman will also remove some of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ power, such as his control over lines of communication between the Palestinian Authority and Israel.
“An asymmetry has formed in the West Bank, in which Abu Mazen [Abbas’ nickname] speaks freely with Israeli officials, but the opposite does not happen. Abu Mazen is an obstacle to an agreement,” Liberman said.
“We can hold a dialogue [with other Palestinian leaders in the West Bank], bypassing Abu Mazen, as he is a barrier and is unhelpful,” Liberman said.
Liberman’s initiative is slated to cost NIS 400 million ($105 million) over the next two years, a price he claims is necessary for both Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace.