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Lieberman says illegal West Bank settlements essential to Israel's security

Sept. 19, 2017 1:19 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 19, 2017 8:18 P.M.)
Avigdor Lieberman (File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Israel’s Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman reportedly said that Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, which are illegal under international law, are necessary for Israel’s security, The Jerusalem Post reported on Monday.

According to The Jerusalem Post, Liberman’s comments came during a visit with settler leaders in the Vered Yeriho settlement, in the West Bank district of Jericho.

“From my perspective it's clear that the settlements in Judea and Samaria and those here in the area of Jericho and the Dead Sea are the State of Israel’s true defensive wall,” Lieberman said, using the Israeli term ‘Judea and Samaria’ to refer to the West Bank.

“At the end of the day, what is determinative is who is in the field. The settlements have always been the pioneers of the pioneers of [Israel’s] security,” Lieberman said, reportedly highlighting the importance of settlements as lines of defense in “the cyber age and the missile era.”

Lieberman, who himself lives in a settlement in the southern West Bank, promised to continue supporting settlement expansion in the Palestinian territory.

The minister, who is notorious for his ultra right-wing policies, went on to boast that “he had done more for settlement building than anyone else in the last 17 years,” including the recent decision to grant official status to the municipal committee that governs Hebron’s extremist settler community.

Lieberman also defended Israel’s Civil Administration -- which is responsible for carrying out hundreds of demolitions of Palestinian homes and structures every year -- saying, “you have no right to blame them,” as they are just carrying out the orders of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office.

“If you want to blame someone, blame the defense minister and the prime minister, we are responsible, not them,” Liberman said.

He also promised to complete a plan to “protect all the settlements with smart fences and better access roads by November,” The Jerusalem Post added.

There are some 196 government recognized Israeli settlements scattered across the Palestinian territory, all considered illegal under international law, while hundreds of unauthorized Israeli settler outposts -- considered illegal even under Israeli law -- also dot the Palestinian landscape.

While Israel considers settler outposts to be illegal, earlier this year, Israel passed the outpost "Regularization law," which paved the way for the retroactive legalization of dozens of Israeli settler outposts, while loosening restrictions on settlers erecting outposts on private Palestinian land.

Meanwhile, in June, Israeli authorities broke ground on the first official new Israeli settlement in 25 years amid fierce condemnation from the international community and rights groups.

Israel’s settlements on Palestinian territory have been routinely cited by world leaders and rights groups as one of the main impediments to peace in the region.

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