Published On: Thu, Jun 16th, 2016

Netanyahu dismisses Ya’alon criticism as ‘political attacks’

'You can't express complete trust in the leadership when you're part of it, and say the complete opposite when you're out, ' prime minister says after the former defense minister slammed the gov't for using scare tactics to 'divide and rule.'

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Photo GPO) Former defense minister Ya'alon (Photo Adi Cohen Tzadok)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed criticism by former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon on Thursday as mere “political attacks that should be paid no mind.”

“Security is a serious matter. You can’t say at a conference in Munich four months ago that Iran is an existential threat to Israel, and today at the Herzliya Conference say that Iran is not an existential threat to Israel, ” Netanyahu said, referring to Ya’alon’s assertions. “You can’t express complete trust in the leadership when you’re part of it, and say the complete opposite when you’re out.”

In his speech to the Herzliya Conference on Thursday afternoon, Ya’alon asserted that Israel is not facing an existential threat.

“The State of Israel is the strongest in the region. I can confidently say that at this time and in the foreseeable future there is no existential threat to the state of Israel, ” he said. “I say this as someone who knows every last detail of the security situation in Israel, and who knows the power and strength of the IDF and its intelligence capabilities.”

“The Iranian nuclear project likewise does not pose an immediate threat to Israel and the countries in the region, ” Ya’alon further charged.

Despite these assessments, he said Israel should know how to defend itself, “In the Middle East, there is no knowing what is going to happen and who is going to decide to try and challenge us. The events of the past week further prove that the war on terror is an international one.”

He also leveled harsh criticism against the government, saying he intends to run for office in the next elections and replace Netanyahu.

“The leadership in the State of Israel should stop scaring civilians and giving them the feeling that we are on the brink of a second Holocaust, ” he said.

Ya’alon resigned his post as defense minister and announced he was taking a break from politics after realizing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was planning to replace him with Avigdor Lieberman, who joined the coalition with his five-member party and rewarded for it with two ministries, among other things. Ya’alon said at the time he was resigning after having lost trust in the prime minister.

He said he received “thousands of calls from Israeli citizens from across the political spectrum—and certainly from members of Likud all across the country—which clarified to me that there is a desire for change, and that the State of Israel needs change.”

“The State of Israel and its citizens, ” he went on to say, “deserve a stately leadership that stops cynically zigzagging (on its position) every other day. We deserve a leadership that doesn’t choose (to rule through) the corrupt system of divide and rule.”

Moran Azulay and TPS contributed to this report

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