Former IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. (ret.) Moshe Yaalon accuses the media of protecting politicians who adopt left-wing policies.
In an interview with Army Radio on Sunday morning, Yaalon said, "Politicians have learned that if they go towards steps such as disengagement, convergence [i.e., withdrawal from Judea and Samaria], and folding, then the central current of public dialogue - and I'm talking chiefly about the media - will raise them up."
Yaalon was the Chief of Staff from 2002 until 2005. Then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his Defense Minister Sha'ul Mofaz did not extend Yaalon's three-year term, in a departure from custom, and he concluded his term in June 2005, just 11 weeks before the expulsion/withdrawal from Jewish Gaza began. Yaalon had expressed some opposition to the plan.
"The phrase 'to etrog a politician' [meaning, to treat him very protectively, as one does with an etrog fruit during the Sukkot holiday] is not something I made up," Yaalon said. "It was made up by a journalist [Amnon Abramovitch]. I call upon some of those who are thought to be leading journalists - and there is no small degree of corruption there [in the media] that, I feel, causes politicians to understand that if they want to be 'etrog-ed' and 'forgiven' in matters of substance and professional failures, it’s a good idea for them to take certain approaches."
Without ever mentioning Prime Minister Olmert's name, Yaalon said, "I definitely think we are now in a similar instance."
Army Radio, in an attempt to be even-handed, quoted unnamed "senior diplomatic elements" who said, "There is only one problem with this theory, not to mention the paranoia of Yaalon. The Prime Minister presented, before the elections and the investigations, a daring and ambitious program based on leaving the territories, and was even elected on this platform. All attempts to cast doubt on his motives for the diplomatic process are doomed to fail."
Police Push Off Announcement
Unlike the above "diplomatic elements," the police have also linked their several ongoing criminal investigations of the Prime Minister with his diplomatic efforts. A few days ago, the police took the unusual step of announcing four days in advance that this Sunday [today] they would announce whether or not they recommend indicting Olmert regarding the Bank Leumi privatization scandal. The police did not explain why they felt it necessary to inform the public in advance - nor why they wished to announce their recommendations on the day Olmert leaves for an important international summit in Annapolis.
However, due to pressure from Olmert's office and fears that the announcement would mar the Annapolis summit, the police stated on Saturday night that they would announce their recommendations this coming Thursday instead. Some pundits ventured that Olmert would not mind a "no indictment" recommendation on the eve of his departure for the U.S., and that therefore he must have received indications that the police recommendation was not in his favor.
More from the Yaalon Interview: "A State Won't Solve Palestinian Corruption"
General Yaalon says that many Palestinians themselves feel that what they need now is not a state and not Jerusalem, but education and an end to corruption. "We should not talk about territorial concessions at all. What we have to talk about is developing businesses from the bottom up, and not giving more money to the rich Palestinians. Talking now about [giving them] Jerusalem will solve their problems? Will it change their corrupt culture, or their law and order? If they can't solve these problems, then what are we doing talking with them?"
No Giving in to Terrorist Ransom Demands
The ex-Chief of Staff also said that the very idea of freeing terrorist prisoners for captured soldiers is a mistake: "We once declared that we would not give in to demands in exchange for hostages, and that's what stopped these kidnappings. The fact that we keep on giving in to these kidnappings encourages more and more of them. I call upon the government not to give in any more, and to not open this matter for debate again."