Following a blistering criticism of Israel increasing hard Right turn, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon was removed for his post, and he, in turn, has removed himself from Israel politics, resigning from both his political party and the national legislature.
His replacement comes from a small party that’s to the Right of Likud, the party of both Ya’alon and the man who deposed him, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The result will be a heating up of tensions both within and without Israel, given that the new defense minister is avowedly bloodthirsty and in the past has called for military strikes against Iranian facilities suspected of processing fuel for nuclear weapons.
From Vice News:
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon resigned on Friday, saying that “extremist and dangerous elements” had hijacked the nation after the country’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu moved to replace him with the leader of the ultranationalist Yisrael Beitenu party.
In a televised speech outside the defense ministry a grim-faced Yaalon, who spent four years in the post, said he was stepping down following “difficult disputes over matters of principle and professionalism” with Netanyahu and several members of the cabinet.
“I fought with all my might against manifestations of extremism, violence, and racism in Israeli society, which are threatening its sturdiness and also trickling into the IDF [Israel Defense Forces],” he continued. “Sadly, leading politicians in this country chose the path of inciting and dividing between parts of Israeli society, instead of uniting and joining [them].”
The Washington Post has more from the press conference:
In a press conference Friday, Yaalon, a fellow member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, warned that Israel was drifting dangerously toward extremism.
“I fought with all my might against manifestations of extremism, violence and racism in Israeli society, which are threatening its sturdiness and trickling into the armed forces, hurting it already,” he said.
Yaalon appeared to be referring to widespread support by Israeli leaders for a combat medic who shot to death a wounded Palestinian attacker as he lay on a street in Hebron in the occupied West Bank.
Thousands of Israelis rallied in Tel Aviv and proclaimed the soldier a hero. Israeli human-rights activists called it a cold-blooded execution. The killing was captured on video.
More from the London Telegraph:
Mr Ya’alon said he had spent his career fighting extremism, violence and racism, but that they were threatening the “sturdiness” of society and trickling into the IDF.
“The state of Israel is patient and tolerant toward the weak among it and minorities,” he said. “But to my great regret extremist and dangerous elements have overrun Israel as well as the Likud party, shaking up our home and threatening harm to those in it.”
He added that he had “recently found myself in strong disagreement on moral and professional issues with the prime minister, a number of ministers and several MPs”.
Mr Ya’alon’s dismissal as defence minister came after months of disagreements with the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
From the Independent, terms of agreement:
Yaalon is also a Likud politician who shares Netanyahu’s dim views on the prospects for a long-term accord with the Palestinians. But they clashed this month over the trial of a soldier who shot dead a wounded and supine Palestinian assailant, with Yaalon coming out against public calls for clemency while Netanyahu took a more circumspect position.
A poll aired by Israel’s Channel 10 television on Thursday found that 51 percent of Israeli Jews saw Yaalon as best suited for defence minister. Twenty-seven percent preferred Lieberman.
U.S. officials have declined comment on the prospect of dealing with Lieberman as Israeli defence minister, but one Egyptian diplomat told Reuters on Thursday that Cairo was “shocked” at the idea.
Defense News translated Ya’alon’s resignation speech, and here’s a key section:
“[T]o my great regret, extremist and dangerous forces have taken over Israel and the Likud party and are shaking our national home and threatening to harm its residents.
“This is not the Likud movement that I joined — the Likud of Ze’ev Jabotinsky and Menachem Begin. And it is proper that the decisive majority of Likud voters and the sane public and responsible governing establishment understand the deep rifts and gathering ominous winds that are seizing the movement.
“I hope that also the public at large — from the right and the left — will understand the grave significance of the extreme minority overtaking the center and will fight against this phenomenon.
“To heartsick regret, senior politicians in the country have chosen a path of attack and separation from parts of Israeli society rather than uniting them.
“It is intolerable in my eyes that we will disintegrate into cynical and power-lusting factions. I’ve expressed my opinions on this subject out of candid concern for the future of Israeli society and generations to come.”
There’s lots more, after the jump. . . Continue reading