In his first statement since an IAF F-16 was downed over northern Israel over the weekend, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Tuesday that Israel will respond to “any provocation” and continue to defend its vital security interests.
“This is not the time for talk, it’s time for action,” Liberman said during a tour of security positions and home front security in the northern city of Kiryat Shemona, about 10 kilometers south of the border with Lebanon. “We will respond to any provocation…Now is not the time to bark, but to bite. And we will bite hard,” Lieberman added.
During the visit, Lieberman also spoke about Israels’ ties with Russia, given the latter’s military presence in Syria. He said that Moscow has not asked Israel to hold back on attacking Iranian installations in Syria, and that Israel would not agree if a request was made.
“There are no restrictions (on our operations) and we would not accept any restrictions,” he said, adding that Israel and Russia maintain an “open dialogue” on Syria in order to prevent misunderstandings and unnecessary friction.
“Each side has its own interests,” he said.
Asked if he is satisfied with the US behavior in Syria and Lebanon the defense minister called the question “naiive” and repeated a long-standing assertion that the United States is Israel’s most important strategically.
That said, Liberman also noted that US and Israeli interests do not always match up.
“The US has its own interests… (but) we saw that after the operation three days ago, they stood up openly and backed the State of Israel. We thank them for that,” he said.
Lieberman also addressed the near-lynching of an IDF crew on Monday in Jenin, praising the Palestinian police officers who rescued the soldiers who had mistakenly entered the city.
“The Palestinians understand that security coordination is a mutual interest, “he said