Economy Minister Naftali Bennett came to the defense of his cabinet colleague, embattled Defense Minister Moshe (Bogie) Ya'alon, on Saturday, describing him as "a very good Defense Minister, even if his positions are not accepted by commentators and others."
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Ya'alon is under fire for making disparaging remarks about the United States earlier in the week. As first reported in Haaretz on Tuesday, the defense minister said that the U.S. “shows weakness” in various arenas around the world – including Ukraine – and that its allies in the Middle East are disappointed.
“If you sit and wait at home, the terrorism will come again,” Ya'alon said, during an address at Tel Aviv University.
In a post on his Facebook page on Saturday night, Bennett slammed what he called the media’s "attack on the Defense Minister and IDF leadership," calling it "largely unnecessary and misguided. Until now there hasn’t been anyone that has said stop, enough already."
It was to Ya'alon's credit, Bennett wrote, that "the defense establishment has returned to its quiet and respectable work routine" over the past year. "Our intelligence system is undergoing a true revolution, with new and bold capabilities. Today, everybody knows we will not hesitate to act deep within enemy borders, to cut off our enemy’s hands."
"The State of Israel has regained its deterrence," Bennett wrote. "In the turbulent sea of the Middle East, Israel stands as a beacon of stability."
Bennett's sentiments were not shared by Strategic and Intelligence Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz, who said on the weekend that he could understand why the American's regarded Ya'alon's words as a slap in the face.
Israel's cooperation with the American intelligence services are "at a higher level than they've ever been," Steinitz said.
On Friday, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters that "we still have remaining concerns about Ya'alon's pattern of behavior… I think we clearly expressed our displeasure by his offensive comments and an apology would be a natural next step."