Likud’s Gotliv doubles down on attacks on military, slams PM for ‘apologizing’

MK says government should apologize only for IDF Chief of Staff Halevi remaining in role, has a ‘duty to fully condemn’ warnings about army readiness being impaired

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Likud MK Tally Gotliv speaks attends a Knesset State Control Committee meeting, in Jerusalem, on August 15, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Renegade Likud MK Tally Gotliv on Wednesday slammed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for defending Israel Defense Forces officials and the security establishment, and justified recent attacks by lawmakers on the military.

Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant issued a joint statement Tuesday rejecting the mounting rebukes of IDF brass expressed by lawmakers, confidants of the the premier, right-wing media, and others, after defense officials repeatedly voiced concern over damage to the military’s readiness caused by some reservists’ refusals to carry out their duties in protest of the coalition’s judicial overhaul legislation.

“Mr. Prime Minister, why are you apologizing for nothing?” Gotliv tweeted. “What right does a government have to exist if we remain silent when the IDF’s top brass considered issuing a statement regarding their competence in a way that would play into the hands of our enemies and seriously harm our national resilience?”

Gotliv was referring to a Channel 12 news report last week — which the military, Shin Bet security service, and Mossad all denied — that the top security chiefs were considering publicly detailing the worsening status of those bodies’ capabilities next month.

The report said that they were considering such a move after Netanyahu last week denied a request for the information by some cabinet ministers, fearing it would be leaked to the public.

“It is our duty to fully condemn [the defense officials]! And apologize? Only because the chief of staff is still in his role, the same chief of staff who legitimized refusals by his silence,” Gotliv wrote.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi (center) speaks with new conscripts at the Tel Hashomer military induction center in Ramat Gan, August 8, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

Also addressing the matter Wednesday, Likud MK Avihai Boaron told the Kol Berama radio station: “The chief of staff and heads of the security establishment should call on all army refusers and tell them you either show up or we will manage without you.”

Netanyahu and Gallant’s statement in support of the IDF Tuesday came shortly after Regional Cooperation Minister David Amsalem, also in Likud, lashed out at top commanders, claiming the IDF was seeing a “rebellion” in its ranks that military chiefs were failing to quell.

Known as a Likud rabble-rouser who previously called for jailing anti-overhaul protest leaders and ousting the attorney general, Amsalem also said on Tuesday that prominent opponents of the government’s judicial overhaul should “rot” behind bars.

“In any normal army, you treat rebels like rebels should be treated,” Amsalem told Army Radio.

He castigated IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi and Air Force chief Tomer Bar over the thousands of reservists, including many pilots, who have said they will stop their volunteer duty in protest of the coalition’s efforts to weaken the judiciary.

Gallant also swiftly defended Halevi on Monday after Yair Netanyahu, the prime minister’s son, shared a Facebook post that said the IDF chief “will be remembered as the most failed and destructive chief of staff in the history of the IDF” for not cracking down on the reservists.

The post was deleted from the younger Netanyahu’s page around half an hour after it was shared.

Gallant praised Halevi as “one of the most excellent officers that I’ve met in all my years in the IDF and security establishment.”

The premier did not explicitly condemn the post shared by his son, instead tweeting that the country faced “big challenges,” and that he was “working day and night together with the defense minister, the IDF chief of staff, senior IDF officers and security forces to jointly guarantee Israel’s security under all circumstances.”

Halevi, Bar, and others have warned that the reservist protests are having an increasingly negative impact on military readiness, drawing rebukes from Netanyahu and supporters of the far-right, religious government.

On Sunday, military heads were said to have warned Netanyahu that the army would really begin to feel the negative impact of the reservists’ protest in another two weeks, when large drills are planned.

The brass told Netanyahu that IDF readiness would worsen in the case of a constitutional crisis, harm to the IDF’s international standing or the passage of a Basic Law that would expand draft exemptions for yeshiva students, the Kan public broadcaster reported.

As the government advanced the first major bill of its judicial overhaul late last month, more than 10,000 reservists who frequently show up for duty on a voluntary basis said they would no longer do so. The reservists, some of whom have acted on their warnings, said they would not be able to serve in an undemocratic Israel, which some charge the country will become if the government’s overhaul plans are realized.

Speaking to Israeli Air Force members at the Ramon base on Tuesday, Gallant said the State of Israel depends on the IDF and that “in the face of intensifying threats, the Air Force is a central element in our ability to defend ourselves.”

Members of the corps “are a strategic asset of the State of Israel, enabling the proper functioning of the entire security system — this is why we need them all.”

“The wall that is the Air Force is strong, but small. Every brick that falls undermines the stability of that wall. Therefore, we do not have the privilege of not reporting for missions. The security of the country is greater [in importance] than all of us,” said Gallant, chiding those who have refused to show up.

August 16, 2023 | Comments »

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