Former Defense Minister: Netanyahu should have resigned long ago

Former Defense Minister Ya'alon promises to unveil his party list as soon as Israel sets date for elections.

Hezki Baruch,

Moshe Ya'alon at a protest in Jerusalem
Moshe Ya'alon at a protest in Jerusalem
Hadas Parush/Flash90

Former Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon on Saturday promised to run for prime minister and said he would unveil his party list when elections were closer.

Participating on Saturday in a Shabbatarbut (political and cultural forums that take place on the Sabbath) event in Ramat Hasharon, Ya'alon said, "I announced that I would run for prime minister, and I am currently building my political power. I'm traveling the country, and when we know when elections will be held, we'll reveal our list and our party, as well as, I hope and believe, our political connections."

"I think that with the right connections and approval for our central issues, and by placing national interests above everything else, we will receive enough votes from the public to form a coalition."

In March 2017, Ya'alon was removed from his position as Defense Minister by Netanyahu. He quit the Likud to form a new political party. Since then, he has slammed Netanyahu several times, emphasizing his opinion that Netanyahu is not fit to lead and that Ya'alon himself will create a party list and run for prime minister.

However, according to polls, Ya'alon's new party will not garner enough votes to pass the electoral threshhold needed to enter the Knesset. A recent poll showed Netanyahu's Likud as garnering 30 seats.

Speaking about the threats from Iran, Lebanon, and Syria, Ya'alon said, "The Iranians are trying to use the diplomatic agreements between US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in order to approach our border in the Golan Heights and open a front with us.... The Iranians are willing to fight to the last Lebanese and the last Syrian in order to achieve their Shiite goals, just like Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's father, Hafez al-Assad, was willing to fight to the last Lebanese and was warned not to start a war with Israel in the Golan."

"It's good that Israel is drawing red lines, [but] we need to be careful about the declarations and threats we make, because they might be tested and not keeping to our red lines will harm Israel's power of deterrence. We need to be prepared, we need to plan, but we need to continue doing everything possible on a political level. I believe that the government's policy on the issue is the right one, but we need to stay on guard."

Regarding Israel's purchase of submarines from Germany, Ya'alon said, "If I hadn't put a stop to the purchase of submarines and naval vessels in February 2016, I would still be Defense Minister, and the issue would never have been investigated. The submarines and other vessels are a result of the worst corruption since Israel's founding."

"I expect that we will soon get over it, it's come time to clear the air. Unfortunately, I have to say that politicians are destroying a lot of what's good in Israel. Unfortunately, I have to tell our Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, 'Go home and let others lead the country.' I expect that former ministers were called in to give their testimonies, as former Cabinet members, and no one asked for submarines or warships to fight submarines. The Prime Minister should have resigned a long time ago, if only due to public opinion. Why wait for an indictment?"

The submarine affair, known as Case 3000, began in November 2016 after allegations that David Shimron, Netanyahu's personal attorney and second cousin, convinced him to purchase the subs from ThyssenKrupp rather than through an international tender.

Police suspect a series of crimes was committed surrounding the purchase of three submarines from the German company ThyssenKrupp, including bribery, fraud, tax evasion and money laundering.

However, police have asserted that Netanyahu is not a suspect in the case.

"I don't participate in the protests held opposite the home of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, and I don't participate in the protests in Tel Aviv, which seem to be political," Ya'alon added.

"However, the first time a protest which suited me was held in Jerusalem, I was there, and I saw how hard the Prime Minister's Office worked to ensure people would not go. Public pressure worries Netanyahu, and it's obvious that he's just trying to survive politically, and that national interests do not interest him at all. If you have a hawkish position, and I'm not even talking about right or left, then you can't be straight or official? There is a leadership crisis here. Leadership is about what's right, not what's popular at the moment."