Nitzan Alon
Nitzan AlonIsrael news photo: Flash 90

Top IDF brass should be seen and not heard, at least not when it comes to voicing their political opinions in public, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Monday. The trigger for Netanyahu's support was a press conference given last week by IDF Central Command head Nitzan Alon, who said that if Israel did not begin “serious negotiations” with the Palestinian Authority right away, in order to give PA Arabs “hope,” Israel would face a serious deterioration in its defense situation.

During Monday's cabinet meeting, government minister Limor Livnat slammed Alon for speaking to foreign diplomats last week, and telling them that Israel needed to give U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry “something to bring back to the Palestinians” in order to avert a third intifada. “Have we returned to the days of Oslo, in which IDF officers presented their evaluations to the press, and not their commanding officers?” asked Livnat. “If officers have concerns, the right place to present them is to their superiors in the army, and certainly not to hold press conferences,”she said.

Netanyahu backed Livnat's comments, saying that “borders needed to be defined” on public political comments by IDF officers.

Supporting Alon was Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, who said that Alon's comments “were taken out of context. Alon did not actually say those things, the comments were added by journalists who deduced what they thought Alon meant to say, based on his comments.”