Ya'alon: I Didn't Intend to Attack Bennett

As competition for Defense Minister heats up, Ya'alon says remarks about minister misconduct during Gaza op not directed at Bennett.

Yedida Ben Or, Cynthia Blank,

Moshe Ya'alon at the exit?
Moshe Ya'alon at the exit?
Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

Defense Minister Moshe (Bogie) Ya'alon clarified Thursday that the controversial remarks he made earlier this week were not directed toward Economy Minister Naftali Bennett. 

In an interview with Army Radio on Tuesday, Ya'alon stated that "the Prime Minister and I, had to go out an reprimand the conduct of some Cabinet ministers during the course of the operation." 

"Anyone who tries to make a war into politics is muktzeh [outcast in this context - ed.] as far I'm concerned," he added. 

During Operation Protective Edge, Bennett was publicly critical of the government's handling of the war. Additionally, both Ya'alon and Bennett are vying for the position of defense minister in the upcoming government, should it be led by Binyamin Netanyahu. 

The Jewish Home party, however, did not take the slight lightly and responded: "We do not do politics when the Prime Minister and Minister Bennett are on a national mission in the United States. We call on the Defense Minister to behave accordingly."

"The Defense Minister’s votes to prevent the operation against the tunnels speak for themselves, and despite this he should keep his cool," the party added. 

Speaking to Army Radio again, on Thursday, Ya'alon claimed that the remarks were not targeted at Bennett. 

"When I said 'muktzeh' I wasn't referring to a specific minister, rather the phenomenon of political leaks coming out of the Cabinet," he said. 

However, Ya'alon made no secret of his desire to continue his post after the establishment of the next government.

"The defense portfolio has never been just a job or a work schedule to me. First of all, this is a great responsibility, and hard work - it's not a child's game."

"This is not about slogans the we unfortunately heard during and after Operation Protective Edge. Everyone can come and judge the defense ministry for himself today."