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Homefront Minister Threatens to Quit over Defense Ministry Spat

Gilad Erdan on Thursday struck back against Moshe Ya'alon, who on Wednesday implied that Erdan was “dead weight” on the government.
By David Lev
First Publish: 1/23/2014, 11:16 AM

Minister Gilad Erdan
Minister Gilad Erdan
Flash 90

Homefront Security Ministry Minister Gilad Erdan on Thursday struck back against Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, who on Wednesday implied that Erdan was “dead weight” on the government. Speaking Wednesday, Ya'alon said that the Homefront Ministry was “a waste of public money,” and that any responsibility for the safety of Israelis, whether on the battlefield or the home front, was his.

"Regarding the argument about home front defense and the Home Front Command, I'm not avoiding responsibility," Ya’alon said on Wednesday. "The responsibility is mine. Across the board. We can’t split the issue and establish a Ministry to give orders to the Home Front Command, and the Chief of Staff will give orders to the Home Front Command, and I will give them orders. I’ve never heard of such a thing.”

Instead of having a separate ministry for issues related to home front defense, argued Ya’alon, the responsibilities should be given to a deputy minister within the Ministry of Defense, as has been the case in the past.

"Once you start to split the responsibilities because of political considerations, and certainly if you start to build a Ministry with a CEO, with an independent legal capacity, an independent budget etc, it is a waste of public money,” he said.

It was the most public display of what has apparently been an ongoing spat between the two, and Erdan did not take the criticism well. Speaking Thursday, Erdan said that if his office was irrelevant, it was Ya'alon himself who was making it so.

“The Defense Minister is preventing the transfer of several homefront responsibilities to my office,” Erdan said. “He won't let me do my job, and then he complains that I can't do the job and that my ministry should be closed down.”

Erdan said that the Defense Ministry has not yet released several million shekels for manpower and equipment needed for the ministry – a relative pittance compared to the NIS 60 billion ($17 billion) that the Defense Ministry swallows up annually.

“If anyone wants to examine public waste, I suggest we start with the biggest budget sectors,” a Homefront Command Ministry official was quoted as saying Wednesday. Erdan said that if the money was not forthcoming, “I will indeed leave this post.”