Battle Between Home Front and Defense Ministries Comes to a Head

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to convene what is being described as a decisive meeting Tuesday over the division of authority for the Israeli home front, in an effort to resolve the ongoing dispute between Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Home Front Defense Minister Gilad Erdan.

For over six months Erdan has been waging a battle to increase the authority of his ministry. He’s met with resistance, first from GOC Home Front Command Maj. Gen. Eyal Eisenberg, and latterly also from Ya’alon.

Erdan recently warned that if his ministry was not given any substantive authority, he would give up the portfolio (though he would remain in the government as communications minister). Erdan claims that the limited authority afforded his ministry does not allow him to effectively fulfill his responsibilities to the home front.

The original date set in his ultimatum was January 31, but in the end the debate was postponed until Tuesday.

Ya’alon and Erdan have met several times in recent months – sometimes together with Netanyahu – in an effort to straighten things out.

At first Ya’alon agreed to hand over some of the authority for routine home front activities to Erdan’s ministry, but the two did not succeed in reaching any agreements.

After the huge snowstorm in December 2013, however, Ya’alon changed his mind, concluding that only the Israel Defense Forces could successfully cope with serious events affecting the civilian population, and that all authority must remain with the Defense Ministry and the army, which answers to it.

In January 2014 Ya’alon was sharply critical of the Home Front Defense Ministry, arguing that it was superfluous, that “nothing good could come of it,” and that its continued existence was wasting public funds.

In an address to Defense Ministry employees, Ya’alon said, “The responsibility is mine, from end to end. You can’t divide the issue here and set up some ministry that will give orders to the Home Front Command.”

Moshe Ya'alon speaking at INSS, January 28, 2014.Credit: Moti Milrod
Minister Gilad Erdan. Credit: Michal Fattal

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