Defense Minister Ya'alon Accuses Bennett of Recklessness, Chasing Headlines

Education minister said the leadership's lack of creativity was a bigger threat to Israel than Hamas, Hezbollah or Iran.

Avigdor Lieberman watches at Naftali Bennett and Moshe Ya'alon speak in the Knesset, November 10, 2014.
Olivier Fittousi

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon responded Tuesday evening to criticism by Education Minister Naftali Bennett about his and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's security policies. Ya'alon accused Bennett of being reckless, childish and of harming national security.

Earlier on Tuesday, Bennett said that the main threat facing Israel was not Hamas, Hezbollah or Iran, but the government leaders' “inability to think out of the box.” Speaking at the annual conference of the Institute for National Security Studies, he said that "Instead of shaping our future with our own hands, Israel is being dragged along."

"Today I heard remarks that we are not creative," Ya'alon said. "Ministers hear ideas in the security cabinet and take them as their own, and criticize the government publicly," Ya'alon said. "This is the same pattern [we have seen] during Operation Protective Edge" in Gaza. Such ministers, he said, are voting one way during the cabinet meeting, but as soon as they leave the room they change their tune.

Though Ya'alon did not mention Bennett by name, he accused him of populist politics. "This is a bad political culture, it's reckless, childish and it should cease," he said. "It involves endangering national security for short-term political gain," he added, describing it as an "attempt to chase headlines or get Facebook 'likes.'"

Sources close to Bennett attacked Ya'alon, and said: "for the sake of Israel's security, Bennett will keep saying what he believes, even if there are those who wouldn't like it. The same was during Operation Protective Edge and will be in the future."

Sources close to the prime minister attacked his remarks. “We snickered after hearing Bennett’s words,” said Netanyahu associates. “Once again Bennett is repeating his familiar pattern of behavior. He hears ideas that come up in various forums with the prime minister and then uses them as his own.”

The sources noted specifically that the issue of not granting immunity to Iran in the event of a war against Hezbollah in Lebanon is a subject that was discussed in the security cabinet, as was the possibility of changing the policy of the siege in Gaza. “These are all things that came up in the cabinet and now he’s presenting them as his own ideas," they said. "It’s simply absurd."