Nationalist MKs back Netanyahu in confrontation with Ya’alon

May 15, 2016  

Several MKs on Sunday night expressed support for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, after he summoned Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon to a meeting following the latter’s call for IDF officers to express their opinion even if it is contrary to that of the political leadership.

On the flip side, some MKs, mostly from the left side of the political spectrum, expressed support for Ya’alon and accused Netanyahu of stifling freedom of speech.

“The separation between the civilian government and the military in Israel is among the most important elements of democracy and we must preserve it,” said MK Michael Oren (Kulanu) in what appeared to be a cautious backing of Netanyahu.

“While the IDF maintains the highest military values it must be kept within the limits of its sector and not enter the realms of the political arena,” he added.

MK Oren Hazan (Likud) was more vocal in his criticism of Ya’alon, tweeting, according to Channel 2 News, “Someone remind Bogie that we are a democracy and not a military regime. The IDF is not a junta; its job is to carry out the decisions of the political echelon and not criticize it and set a different policy.”

Meanwhile, MK Nachman Shai (Zionist Union) expressed support for Ya’alon in the matter and said, “The Prime Minister is stifling freedom of speech in the public sphere and now he also expects senior army commanders to sing to the tunes he writes.”

Yesh Atid chairman MK Yair Lapid also backed Ya’alon, saying in a statement, “Bogie is right. The IDF is the most moral army in the world, but only because it holds a constant, open and brave debate about the values and dilemmas it faces. Officers may err sometimes, but we are better off with thinking officers who make mistakes than with officers who do not ask themselves moral questions.”

“The IDF’s strength does not stem from the gun, but the man behind it,” added Lapid. “Its values, spirit, its ability to investigate itself. It is our largest advantage over our enemies and we must maintain it.”

The background to the back and forth between Ya’alon and Netanyahu is Deputy IDF Chief of Staff Yair Golan’s recent comments comparing Israel to Nazi Germany, which he later clarified.

Ya’alon leaped to Golan’s defense right after he made the comments, slamming his critics as being part of an anti-IDF campaign, and claiming Golan was “charting out a path and ethical standards with the help of (his) moral compass.”

An intense telephone conversation between Netanyahu and Ya’alon followed, following which the IDF clarified Golan’s statements.

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