Ya'alon vows to return and contend for leadership

After surprise announcement of 'timeout' from politics, Defense Minister attacks 'extremist minority' for taking control.

Ari Yashar,

Moshe Ya'alon
Moshe Ya'alon
Miriam Alster/Flash 90

After announcing his resignation Friday morning, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon (Likud) held a press conference scheduled for 12 p.m. to discuss his reasons for stepping down from the Knesset and the government, in a move which set Israeli politicians abuzz.

In his initial announcement, Ya'alon said Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's "conduct" and Ya'alon's "lack of confidence" in the Prime Minister had led to his decision, in reference to the decision to hand the Defense Ministry over to Yisrael Beytenu head MK Avigdor Liberman to have his party join the coalition.

Speaking at Hakirya government complex in Tel Aviv, Ya'alon said "I have no intention of leaving public and political life in the state, and in the future I will return to contend for the nationalist leadership of the state of Israel."

Sources close to Ya'alon had emphasized that he is taking a "timeout from political life," and not an all-out resignation from politics, indicating that he intends a comeback.

Ya'alon in his speech said he always had his focus on the security of Israel during his time in office, in "ethical" matters as well.

He added that he worked in "harmony" with Netanyahu and thanked him for that, but said he recently found himself in "moral" disagreements with Netanyahu and other ministers.

"I fought with all my strength against phenomenon of extremism, violence and racism in Israeli society, which threaten its security," he said, adding that most of Israel is not "racist," and accepts others regardless of sexual orientation, race and religion.

"This isn't the Likud movement that I joined," said Ya'alon, calling on the majority of Likud voters to understand the "fracturing" of the party's nature.

He claimed that the "extremist minority" is controlling the "center," and struck out at "factionalization."

In another shot at Netanyahu and the other ministers, he emphasized that he acted based on his moral compass and not based on polls.

Netanyahu had offered Ya'alon the vacant position of Foreign Minister to have him stay on, but apparently Ya'alon was not satisfied with the offer.

Tensions between the two heightened during Ya'alon's recent faceoff against Netanyahu, when the Defense Minister supported IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Yair Golan who compared Israel to Nazi Germany at a Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony. Ya'alon early this week escalated matters further when he told IDF officers to give their personal opinions, regardless of whether they countered the policy of the political echelon.

Ya'alon responded for the first time to his imminent replacement on Thursday, when he struck out at Netanyahu for losing his "moral compass," without referencing the Prime Minister by name.

Ya'alon's place in the Knesset is to be filled by Temple Mount activist Yehuda Glick.




top