Published On: Sun, Sep 15th, 2019

Ashkenazi: “Israel does not need a defense alliance, will IDF fight Taliban?”

MK Gabi Ashkenazi, 4th place on the Knesset's blue-and-white list, cooling down Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's statement about "advancing a historic defense alliance" with the US. "It Will Restrict Israel's Freedom of Action."

MK Gabi Ashkenazi, 4th place on the Knesset’s blue-and-white list, rejects Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement about “advancing a historic defense alliance” with the US administration. “Israeli governments for generations have not wanted a defense alliance. A defense alliance that is withdrawn on the eve of the election is a serious debate. If a defensive alliance is made, it will restrict Israel’s freedom of action, “a former Ashkenazi chief of staff warned Sunday in an interview with the Blitz program at Ynet’s election studio.

– Netanyahu says you don’t understand anything about the defense alliance.

“We have always made sure that Israel’s fate and security are in its hands. What do we want? Does every foreign country in Syria get approval from the United States? We want to see Golani fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan?”

– Is that what this means?

“That’s exactly what it means. In NATO, the French fought in Iraq, Afghanistan.”

– You list models that don’t necessarily work that way.

“All the latest NATO Alliance models, in a mutual defense agreement, say that any attack on one of the Allies is an attack on the Alliance. What has been criticized in England? For sending British soldiers there, including French, Germans. And the rest of the United States sent troops to Iraq and Afghanistan. ”

– If Trump offers you a defensive alliance, refuse?

“We do not need a defense alliance. The current reality of strategic relations with the United States is excellent for Israel. When deploying anti-missile batteries – the Americans come here and deploy batteries here. We do not want to see IDF’s Golani, paratroopers, the Commando Brigade in Iraq or Afghanistan. We have never demanded that foreign soldier protect Israel and we do not want to do it for others. It is a serious discussion, not for Twitter and not on election night, but it is just like with what Netanyahu did with the annexation statement.”

– Could Netanyahu succeed in harnessing Trump for his election campaign?

“The whole thing about Netanyahu’s relationship with Trump is election propaganda. Do you remember how Clinton appreciated Rabin? How did Bush Jr. appreciate Sharon? What special relationship did Olmert have with Bush Jr.?”

– He says you won’t know how to deal with Trump the way he does.

“I do not address his volatile nature or temperament. Trump, like any US president, cares about American interests.  He addresses slogans like US leaves the Middle East, leaves Afghanistan, negotiates with the Taliban. It did not attack the Iranians after dropping a UAV.

– Do you know how to talk to Trump?

“We will know how to talk to Trump the way we do with any government. The real strategic relationship with the US is not between the foreign ministries, they are between the security establishment. Even during the difficult times of crises with US presidents and prime ministers, what has always been maintained is strategic cooperation. ”

– Are we ahead of a crisis with the United States?

“No. Even when there were crises, and there were crises with Reagan, there was even a veto on Israel. What kept the special relationship is the cooperation between the strategic, security establishment. Does Netanyahu want a defense alliance with the Americans? Netanyahu canceled American civilian aid. Netanyahu lost the brakes, the problem is that we all sitting in this car.”

 – You don’t seem to be forming a government.

“Wait for the Election Day. I remember in this studio talking about the election surprise, Feiglin. You called him ‘The Joker’, ‘The Black Sheep’. You know what happened, and the same with the Jewish House that started with 12 seats. So a little modesty. The numbers are in our favor. For the first time Netanyahu is going to the elections with no government, no bloc. We are working very hard not to form a narrow, extortionate government, immersed in corruption with Kahane’s elements. ”

– What will happen if the Democratic Labor party and Democratic camp party will not pass into the Knesset?

“Blue and white don’t refer to the electorate as drinking material, the media’s jargon. We don’t have drinking machines. We explain to the Israeli public that we must prevent the narrow government of 61. Netanyahu can only get seats through a low voting percentage.  in Gush Dan, 700,000 people did not vote. Two million citizens did not vote in the elections at all.”

– Maybe they don’t believe in change.

“I still think that the phenomenon of blue and white, contrary to your predictions of 35 seats, shows that one million and one hundred thousand people, just like the Likud, believe in change.”

PM Netanyahu told Ynet in an interview that he is aiming for the 61 sits government, but after that Benny Gantz invited 

“I remember that Netanyahu, a prime minister in the State of Israel, said before the interview that he did not want a unity government. Since when does a prime minister not want a unity government here? Why after he fails to form a government he did not return his mandate to the president as the democratic practice requires? thei is only because he did not reach an immunity from the court. The prime minister is running all these elections in order to survive politically.”

– If he tells you there’s a political plan for peace?

“Netanyahu a decade ago said about Ehud Olmert that the prime minister with corruption allegations there is concern he may prefer personal consideration to national consideration.”

– Is he corrupt?

“I do not know. We will wait for the court. If the prime minister would have preferred the national consideration over the personal, he would have preceded the hearing in his cases. I doubt he’ll even go to the hearing.”

– Do you think Gantz will manage state affairs better than Netanyahu, from his experience in the face of challenges?

Benny Gantz will not tell the member of the party to sign a loyalty form. We have our opinions. Benny Gantz will not order his ministers or his people not to be interviewed. We will all be interviewed. Benny Gantz will not decide on annexation at a press conference after fifteen minutes of conversation with the leaders of the defense establishment. I trust 100 percent of Benny Gantz. ”

– In the government of Benny Gantz are you the Minister of Defense?

“We’re not handing over roles, we’re waiting for Election Day, encouraging the public to come out, we’re close to that.”

– This is an important statement to the public, which will be the defense minister.

“We just said that our intended prime minister is Benny Gantz, we are all behind him. We will discuss this on the day after the election.”

-What about an operation in Gaza? Hamas’ reign of terror?

“We are serious people when it comes to war matters. We know its prices. We go to bereaved families, not the prime minister. We go to them. I want to call on the people of Israel to vote. We are so close. Everyone who is concerned about state affairs, the fate of his children and grandchildren will go to vote. Anyone who plans to fly, there are currently more than 100,000 people on airline tickets who will reject it. A vacation in Varna is less important than the future of the state.”

By Moran Azulay and Alexandra Lokesh, Ynet News

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