Now is the time to criticize and not shut up

As war goes on, politics as usual

By Dan Margalit, ISRAEL HAYOM

Commitment vs. anger; promise vs. disappointment. This, in a nutshell, is what Thursday’s news conference was all about. This set of emotions defined the rhetoric of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon as they addressed the nation.

Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz was not present, having chosen to attend a special event in memory of the Golani Brigade’s fallen soldiers. It is a good thing he was not there, since the two speakers often chose to digress and settle some political scores rather than talk about national security matters. Military personnel should never engage in politics.

Netanyahu, Ya’alon and Gantz feel that they have been denied the credit they are due. They feel that some in the Diplomatic-Security Cabinet have played down the major blows Israel has dealt Hamas during the fighting. I am talking about a specific set of ministers, one of whom was criticized in 2013 for engaging in “friendly fire inside an armored personnel carrier” after he lashed out at Netanyahu.

Hamas has been dealt a crushing blow; there is no doubt about that. But when cabinet members express their disappointment over the way Operation Protective Edge has been prosecuted, this undermines Israel’s accomplishments and compromises the public’s stamina.

Of course, the jury is still out on whether Netanyahu and his colleagues have accomplished the national security goals they had spelled out and, if they have, whether the path advocated by Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett and Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel would have been preferable. Historians will debate this matter for many years to come. But by forming an internal opposition, cabinet members have become an albatross on the government’s neck. Let’s let the future take shape before we apply judgement.

At Thursday’s press conference Netanyahu and Ya’alon did not speak ill of the official opposition, Labor. This deafening silence on the rival parties — in stark contrast to previous operations — underscores the degree to which contrarian MKs inside the Likud, Habayit Hayehudi and Yisrael Beytenu have gotten under Netanyahu’s skin.

Granted, there is a war of egos around the cabinet table. Yes, there are party politics at play. But at the core, there is an ongoing debate about the prosecution of the war. Some say Ya’alon and Netanyahu, who have taken measured steps towards restoring the calm in Israel and specifically in the Gaza area communities, are doing the right thing. Their supporters view them as minesweepers delicately navigating their way through a treacherous field. This saves lives, but it requires time.

Others, like Bennett and his supporters, say this go-slow approach is devilishly wrong. The public’s faith in its leaders has taken a beating, they say, because of how they have handled things. Their conduct has cast doubts on their ability to obtain the war’s objectives, which, according to Bennett and his friends, cannot be met through any Cairo-led talks.

When all is said and done, Netanyahu and Ya’alon may very well end up where Bennett wants them to go, and maybe Hamas will be dealt a blow of such great proportions that no big maneuver would be necessary (sparing the diplomatic crises that it would inevitably trigger). Perhaps, but there is no way of telling.

But Bennett is not the only one who could shake things up in the government. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Finance Minister Yair Lapid have tried to have Netanyahu step up his diplomatic game. Their criticism has helped feed the perception that Netanyahu prefers to see a crippled Hamas remain in power rather than topple it. They say this is designed to deny Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas any credit for whatever deal emerges, and that Netanyahu fears that if Abbas gains strength, the international community would once try to extract major Israeli concessions in Judea and Samaria. This riddle is bound to remain unsolved, even after Ya’alon and Netanyahu leave office.

PM: Instead of attrition, Hamas will be crushed

During Operation Protective Edge, Israel has dealt Hamas harshest blow since its inception, says Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu • Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon slam cabinet ministers for criticizing government policy during fighting.

Mati Tuchfeld and Israel Hayom Staff

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu address the media

August 21, 2014 | 5 Comments »

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5 Comments / 5 Comments

  1. The West will use the elusive Abbas to perpetuate their permanent antisemitism. There are plenty of Muslim fanatics available to kill Abbas if he dares, in a moment of “misguided epiphany”, decide that sanity and compromise is the way forward. Abbas has no intention to end the way Sadat did. IL will have to look for another Palestinian leader. There is NONE in the horizon!!!

  2. This blog posts the best cross section of the Jewish minds. I am just and understudy and bow to my betters.
    Perhaps you can help me to find resolution to a couple of questions I have?
    I have been convinced that we possess a most powerful military material stock and development programs.
    We sell a great deal of that as well.
    Can anyone tell me what for we have that? Why is it that we do not attack enemies with terminal force once and for all?
    IRAN: Why was that program not nipped when young?
    Who decided to not do so?
    Is anyone prepared to explain to me how can a military unwilling-unable to defeat HAMAS, one-two, defeat Iran?
    Lets start with those and then keep on going to other subjects.

  3. @ AbbaGuutuu:
    There never seem to be “the correct time” to deal with the ultra betrayer of Hebron.
    Please review all records. Don Netanyahu denied to the people that we are at war. That to avoid having to pay compensation to those hurt in the “operation”.
    Netanyahu and the ilk he is mixed with, fool others but we know his creepy games.

  4. SHmuel HaLevi 2 Said:

    If Livni is drifting away it is a sign that she does not see that team holding on.

    If Israel defeats Hamas without too much involvement of PA,PA may not come of out of this war strengthened. Do you think this will make Livini and her team happy?

    Don’t you think praising PA and strengthening it in Gaza could motivate the international community to pressure Israel to accept unfavorable terms in Judea and Samaria sooner or later?

    Is it a wise thing to criticize BB while the country is at war? King Solomon said: “There is time for everything”!

  5. Netanyahu has overplayed his hand.
    If Livni is drifting away it is a sign that she does not see that team holding on. Woe to anyone that ever trusts that scorpion. Two “briefings” in less than 24 hours are markers of a severe condition within Netanyahu’s troupe.