'Ultimately, the person who pays, gets to choose the music'

Liberman suggests Muslim ad money causes CNN, BBC, France 24 bias against Israel

Defense minister lambastes international ‘festival of hypocrisy’ on Gaza violence, says Israel taking ‘concrete steps’ to improve humanitarian situation in Strip

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman speaks during a bilateral meeting with US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis on April 26, 2018 at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. (Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP)
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman speaks during a bilateral meeting with US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis on April 26, 2018 at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. (Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP)

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Friday claimed Muslim nations’ advertising money was encouraging global media bias against Israel.

Asked during an interview on Hadashot TV news why Israel was losing the battle over media coverage of events in the Gaza Strip, Liberman said, “There is one Jewish state in the world. There are 57 Muslim states, who all have much bigger budgets” than Israel.

“Ultimately, the person who pays, gets to choose the music,” he said. “When you go now through all the international channels — from CNN, France 24, BBC — you’ll see that 90 percent of all advertisements come from the Muslim world.”

“We have no illusions. This is a festival of hypocrisy,” he said.

The deaths of 62 Palestinians during Monday’s violent protests along the Gaza border were met with international outrage and calls for an independent investigation of events. Hamas has subsequently admitted that 50 of the dead were members of the terror group. Three others were Islamic Jihad members. But these facts have received scant coverage in the international media.

Liberman said Israel wanted to alleviate the difficult humanitarian situation in Gaza and was taking “concrete steps” on a civil level to do so, though he would not go into details.

“There isn’t a day that we don’t sit and try to solve” Gaza’s humanitarian predicament, he said.

He claimed that there was very little true international will to provide aid to the Strip, and that “not a single international player is prepared to invest money” in rehabilitating Gaza.

On Thursday, the Defense Ministry said the flow of gasoline and diesel fuel into the coastal enclave was being partially restored, less than a week after Palestinian rioters burned the fuel terminal at the Kerem Shalom Crossing. On Tuesday, Israel reopened the trucking lanes at the crossing and began allowing through medical supplies and commercial goods, though in two cases Palestinian officials refused to accept the trucks.

Workers load medical supplies onto a truck bound for the Gaza Strip at the Kerem Shalom Crossing on May 13, 2018. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel)

The next day, Hamas officials inside Gaza refused to accept two shipments of medical supplies, despite shortages in the Strip’s hospitals, because they were provided by the Israeli military.

Liberman dismissed an investigation ordered by the UN Human Rights Council into the deaths in Gaza.

“When you look at the makeup of the UN Humans Rights Council, (it includes) countries that have nothing to do with human rights,” he said. “This is a move to support terrorism. A move entirely intended to deter us from the ability to defend ourselves.”

Earlier Friday the leader of Hamas vowed he would personally lead fresh protests at the Gaza border fence. Ismail Haniyeh also denied a deal had been made to end seven weeks of border protests, promising they would continue.

The IDF said some 1,000 people took part in clashes along the border fence on Friday afternoon and several thousand were in protest camps further back. Demonstrators hurled stones, and rolled burning tires at troops, and flew flaming kites into Israel.

Soldiers responded with riot disposal means and live fire in accordance with rules of engagement, the IDF said.

Palestinian demonstrators use slingshots to hurl rocks at Israeli forces during clashes along the border with the Gaza strip east of Khan Yunis on May 18, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / SAID KHATIB)

Also Friday, the IDF said it had facilitated the transfer of seven of the Gaza wounded who had Jordanian citizenship from Gaza to Jordan for medical treatment.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi announced late Thursday at the start of Ramadan that his country’s border with Gaza would be open throughout the holy month to “alleviate the suffering” of Gazans.

Local media have speculated that a deal has been struck for Egypt, which has a 1979 peace treaty with Israel, to open the border in exchange for Hamas ending the protests.

Haniyeh welcomed Sissi’s decision but denied any such an agreement. “There is a rumor that Hamas made a deal with Egypt to end the marches. This is baseless,” he said.

Egypt reportedly played a large role in convincing Hamas to call of protests this week after deadly clashes with Israeli troops at the border fence Monday.

Sissi on Wednesday said his government was communicating with both sides “so that this bloodshed would stop.”

Since March 30, tens of thousands of Palestinians have taken part in weekly “March of Return” protests, which Israel says are orchestrated by the Hamas terror group and used as cover for attempted terror attacks and breaches of the border fence.

The violent demonstrations were meant to end on May 15, but Hamas leaders have said they want them to continue.

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