Ashkenazi: Netanyahu is the architect of the new government

Outgoing Foreign Minister won't rule out a future return to politics, criticizes Netanyahu; He regrets not keeping the agreement with us.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Gabi Ashkenazi
Gabi Ashkenazi
Foreign Ministry

Outgoing Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, who decided to step down from political life, is not ruling out a future return to politics.

In an interview with Channel 12 News on Saturday night, Ashkenazi said, "I think [Yair] Lapid can be an excellent Foreign Minister. I think there should be a functioning government that approves a budget. The two-and-a-half-year roller coaster has brought us to a bad place. [The] success [of the government] depends on the players who make it up."

He spared no criticism of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying, "I knew Netanyahu when he was Prime Minister. When I was his Chief of Staff, I met a different Netanyahu, a talented and complex man. For the past two years he has stopped behaving in a statesmanlike manner. I thought there was no need for a fourth election in light of the coronavirus and the economic crisis. I think Netanyahu is sorry that he did not abide by the agreement [with Blue and White]. We were told that the country was falling into the abyss."

"We could have stood on the sidelines or jumped into the car to grab the steering wheel and stop the deterioration. There was a personal risk, but I have taken risks my entire life. I feel that an opportunity was missed, we are not free of mistakes. We should have been more aggressive," Ashkenazi clarified. On his decision to retire from political life he said, "The steering wheel got stuck and the car did not go anywhere. I decided that with this data I was taking a break. It was impossible with the Netanyahu government."

In the wake of reports that he is considering launching a new party, Ashkenazi stressed that this is not the direction he is going at the moment. "I am not going to form a new party - it is too early. Currently I am focusing on transferring power in an orderly manner and certainly for more than half an hour (a reference to the quick meeting between Netanyahu and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett -ed.). We talked about the sensitive issues with the new government. I leave with a good feeling – this an amazing Ministry with outstanding people who had been humiliated [before I took office]."

On the Abraham Accords, Ashkenazi said that "there is tension with Jordan and I hope the government has an opportunity to improve it. The importance of the Abraham Accords does not come at the expense of the peace agreements with Jordan. We improved the dialogue with European countries - 44 ministers visited here."

Netanyahu, asserted Ashkenazi, regrets his moves that led to the dissolution of the government: "Netanyahu regrets it. He could not have expected a better partner than Benny [Gantz]. If he had kept the agreement - this would not have happened. He is the main architect of this [new] government."

Asked if he will return to politics, Ashkenazi would not rule out this possibility: "I am on a time-out - not getting a divorce. I do not rule out returning to politics. I have contributed my share to Blue and White and I hope the country gets back on track."