(Andrew Friedman/TPS) Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman slammed Arab MKs Monday over what he called their double standards vis-a-vis Israeli hostages in Gaza and Palestinian civilians in Judea and Samaria. Liberman added that Israel would remain faithful to “basic Jewish values” when dealing with the Palestinians, even when faced with organizations that do not reciprocate.
Speaking during a question and answer session on the Knesset floor, Liberman faced repeated questions about the defense ministry’s efforts to bring about the release of Avera Mengistu, an Israeli citizen of Ethiopian heritage who accidentally crossed into Hamas-held territory in 2014 and has been held incommunicado by Hamas ever since. Liberman blasted the international community and Arab MKs for their persistent focus on Israel’s “occupation” of Judea and Samaria while ignoring the fate of both Mengistu and of civilians in the Gaza Strip.
In addition, when asked about Mengistu’s fate by Ethiopian-born MK Avraham Neguise (Likud), Liberman said “two Israeli soldiers and a civilian have been held in Hamas captivity for two years without so much as a visit by the Red Cross or even the slightest sign of life whatsoever. [Arab MKs] go on and on about the occupation, but on this they are silent. This begs explanation.
“In addition, last week three civilians in Gaza were executed, but again—[Arab MKs] were silent. [The Gazans] had no lawyers, no evidence was presented and they were not permitted to defend themselves [yet there was no outcry from this chamber].”
Liberman was referring to the execution of three Gaza residents for their alleged role in the assassination of senior Hamas terrorist Mazen Fuqaha who was shot dead outside his home in late March.
Liberman also rejected Neguise’s suggestion that Israel suspend family visits for Palestinian security prisoners until there is at least a minimal sign of life from Mengistu, saying, “Even when faced with a barbaric terror organization [like Hamas], we will not act like a terror group. We will always remember and preserve our Jewish values, regardless of the other side’s actions.”