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Lieberman: Hezbollah has taken over Lebanon

Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman was among senior officials who spoke at the annual Herzliya Conference on Thursday.

Discussing the Iranian rocket attack on the Golan Heights on Wednesday night and the subsequent Israeli retaliation, Lieberman told delegates that Israel’s military establishment is “facing a new reality where Iran is attacking Israel directly and trying to harm Israel’s sovereignty and territories”.

Lieberman used the conference stage to expand on many issues including Hezbollah’s electoral success in Lebanon: “The recent elections in Lebanon are in fact the completion of Hezbollah’s takeover of Lebanon. The Lebanese army is now under the direct control of [Hassan] Nasrallah.”

On Israel’s relations with the US and Russia, Lieberman said that “it shouldn’t be taken for granted that we have the ability to talk and consult with the two biggest powers at a moment’s notice”.

Former chief of the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) Yoram Cohen said that Israel should begin formulating its own policies in the absence of a realistic opportunity to reach a peace deal with the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the coming years.

He pointed out the PA’s unwillingness to agree to “appropriate solutions to security threats” in a future deal, as well as its refusal to compromise with Israel on core issues. Cohen called for the government to begin formulating a detailed policy that would safeguard security on one hand and preserve Israel’s character on the other until conditions ripen for a future deal.

Former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni of the Zionist Union told the Conference: “We have our share of differences with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on essential and important issues regarding the State of Israel’s future, but today we fully support the IDF”.

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, a member of the Security Cabinet, told the Herzliya Conference that the message from Israel’s strike on Wednesday is that Israel “won’t allow Iran to build a front” in Syria.

When asked about Israel’s options, Katz said: “We won’t invade Syria to get Iran out of there. In the end, Iran has to make the political decision, as a result of internal pressure from a public that is economically collapsing”.