Former IDF General and Key Israeli Labor Party Figure: We Were Too Good in 1967, Palestinians Deserved Occupation

Amiram Levin, a figure who has been considered left-leaning, tells Israeli newspaper Maariv's weekend edition that 'if they violate agreements, then next time we'll throw them over the Jordan River'

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File photo of Amiram Levine in June 2017 after losing race for head of Labor Party to Avi Gabbay, he is sitting in front of a poster or Gabbay.
File photo of Amiram Levine in June 2017 after losing race for head of Labor Party to Avi Gabbay, and sitting in front of poster or Gabbay. Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

Segments released Wednesday of an interview given by a retired Israeli major general show an especially combative side to the man seen by many as a hopeful to serve as Israel's future defense minister.

Amiram Levin, who spoke with the Israeli newspaper Maariv's weekend edition, would be considered for the role if the Labor Party, of which Levin is a member, ousts Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the next election. 

We were too good in 1967, said Levin. If they violate agreements, then next time well throw them over the Jordan River. The Palestinians deserved the occupation, they dont deserve anything because they didnt accept the boundaries of division. The problem is that the occupation corrupts, and that is an existential danger to us as a society.

Levin was referring to Israels occupation of Palestinian areas, seized in 1967 after Israel was attacked during the Six Day War.

Levin, formerly the commander of the IDF Northern Command, among other defense posts, did not hold back from criticizing the Israeli army, where he served 33 years.

The IDF forgot how to win, he said. You turn from a tiger into a pig because of controlling another people. You dont look for targets but just get fat and sit there. The mission isnt to bring the soldiers home safely, its to kill the enemy.

Levin had vied for leadership in the last Labor Party primary, but withdrew at the last minute and threw his support behind Avi Gabbay. After his election to the Labor chairmanship, Gabbay broke sharply right-ward and came out with several controversial statements.

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A miserable thing to say, Levin called Gabbays comment that left-wingers had forgotten what it means to be Jews. 

But I prefer a person who speaks up, doesnt just read out messages. Hes the only alternative, he said.

Levin's comments come as somewhat of a suprise for a figure who has been considered left-leaning. He has been outspoken in his support, for example, of Breaking the Silence, a group that has been criticized by the right-wing in Israel for calling out allenged human rights abuses by the army. 

His hardline statements reflect Gabbay's shift rightward, a shift seen in the Israeli electorate in recent years. 

Levin seems to have high esteem for Netanyahu, who he calls a serious man, athough he noted that his long, and sometimes controversial tenure in office has left its mark.

Theres great interest in a conflict of interest scandal surrounding an Israeli submarine purchase from a German company, but Levin says that he seeks an explanation not from Netanyahu, but from Moshe Yaalon, the former defense minister, for letting it happen, as he said, under his nose. The scandal is one of several major corruption scandals Netanyahu is facing.

Levin also spoke about Jewish settlements in the West Bank, saying he wouldnt applaud their demolition. People live there.

On rival politician Yair Lapid, a former journalist and talk show host, Levin had this to say, that he is a person who never managed a thing in his life other than a microphone.

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