Netanyahu and Ya’alon spar over comments by IDF officers

May 15, 2016  

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday evening summoned Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon for an urgent meeting, after Ya’alon called on senior IDF officers to voice their opinions even if they contradict the position of the political leadership.

Ya’alon’s remarks came in a reception in honor of Israel’s Independence Day.

“Keep saying what is on your mind. Do this even if it’s against the mainstream, and even if it goes against the ideas and positions of senior commanders or the political leadership,” said Ya’alon at the reception.

He emphasized to the senior officers, “Do not be afraid, do not hesitate, do not be deterred. Continue to be brave not only on the battlefield, but also around the negotiating table.”

“A good army is one whose commanders, junior and senior alike, feel confident in their ability to express their opinions at any time, knowing they will not be harmed. This is my request of you, senior IDF commanders, and that should be your demand of your subordinates as well: Continue to operate according to your human conscience.”

The Prime Minister’s Office was outraged by Ya’alon’s remarks and said that Netanyahu “gives full backing to the IDF, its commanders and soldiers. IDF commanders express their opinions freely in the relevant forums on issues under their responsibility. The IDF is the people’s army and must be kept out of political debates.”

“At the same time, the Prime Minister is adamant that the comparison made by Major General Yair Golan between Israel and Nazi Germany was not appropriate and its timing was improper and caused damage to Israel in the international arena,” said Netanyahu’s bureau.

After Netanyahu’s response to Ya’alon, his office confirmed that the Defense Minister had been summoned for a clarification.

Sunday’s incident marks the second time that Netanyahu and Ya’alon have sparred over Golan’s controversial remarks, 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, and afterwards the IDF clarified Golan’s statements.

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