Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman spoke on Monday at the weekly meeting of the Yisrael Beytenu party, welcoming the faction’s newest MK, Yulia Malinovsky.
Malinovsky was placed seventh on the party list for the 2015 elections, leaving her without a Knesset seat when the party won just six seats. After his appointment to the Defense Ministry, however, Liberman gave up his seat under the “Norwegian Law," paving the way for Malinovsky to enter the Knesset.
“I resigned from the Knesset under the ‘Norwegian Law’,” said Liberman. “I’m sure that she will add a great deal to the parliamentary work Yisrael Beytenu [is doing].”
During the party meeting, Liberman, who is known for his fiery rhetoric and often bellicose public statements, said that he was refraining from media interviews, focusing instead on managing the Defense Ministry.
“I’ve taken an ‘oath of silence’ until Rosh Hashana. I do not intend to give any interviews; right now I need to focus on work inside the ministry and to learn the issues in depth.”
Despite the pledge, however, the Defense Minister did weigh in on the ongoing feud between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Education Minister Naftali Bennett, calling on the latter to “relax."
“It’s the obligation of all of us in the government to stabilize the new coalition. I’m going to take advantage of this opportunity to call upon all my friends, but first and foremost my good friend Naftali Bennett, to relax. We need to work together, in sync [with each other].”
Liberman then ribbed the Education Minister, saying, “Anyone who can’t deal with it, I suggest they go to the doctor to get their short fuse extended," with a touch of humor.
Regarding the recent donations to disabled IDF veteran Yehuda Yitzhak HaYisraeli, who has been prevented from returning to his home in Ofra, Liberman stated that the Defense Ministry would not interfere with plans to construct a special unit to house him during his continued convalescence.
“[R]egarding the construction of an addition to his house, I’ve asked the Defense Ministry’s Exceptions Committee to consider the matter, and I’ve asked the head of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories unit (COGAT) General Yoav Mordechai not to interfere with the construction work. We’ll deal with all of the building permits, and we have absolutely no intention of interfering with the construction once it begins.”
HaYisraeli, a married father of two, was wounded during Operation Protective Edge in 2014. After awakening from a coma, HaYisraeli has progressed over the past two years, but cannot be released from the hospital until a special unit is added to his house to allow the regular care he requires to be given at home.
Because his home lies beyond the Green Line, the government has refused to fund the additions. An online fundraising campaign, however, raised more than twice the money needed within just 24 hours.