Netanyahu and Danon.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
If outgoing deputy defense minister Danny Danon could go back in time, he would not take back his criticism of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that led to his firing, Danon told The Jerusalem Post in an interview on Thursday.
Danon said his only regret was that he did not resign before the prime minister got a chance to fire him.
He had intended to quit when Netanyahu agreed to an Egyptian- brokered cease-fire, but he did not tender his resignation because rocket fire and Israeli air strikes had resumed.
“I would still say the ceasefire was a mistake,” Danon said. “Netanyahu is the one who played politics during war, not me. It was his firing of me that got the attention of the media, not what I said criticizing him earlier in the day.”
Danon accused Netanyahu of adopting the policies of left-wing leaders and letting Hamas set the national agenda. Comments he made calling the cease-fire a victory for Hamas, which were used by the terrorist organization’s propaganda effort, especially angered the prime minister.
“I supported Netanyahu before and during the operation but not when [Meretz chairwoman] Zehava Gal-On and [former Labor leader] Shelly Yacimovich became his groupies,” he said. “I am just saying what the prime minister himself said for years.”
Danon said he believed Netanyahu fired him in an effort to deter criticism from right-wing politicians. He said condemnation Netanyahu received from Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman and Bayit Yehudi head Naftali Bennett was no less problematic.
“I hope politicians continue to express their views and don’t get scared of him,” he said.
Danon had prepared a resignation letter before the fourth round of prisoner releases during the diplomatic process but did not submit it because the releases did not take place.
He criticized Netanyahu for not taking immediate retaliation for the kidnapping of three Israeli teens.
Danon’s firing took effect on Friday at 9:30 a.m., 48 hours after he received his dismissal letter.
“There is a lot I didn’t finish, but I learned a lot in the ministry,” Danon said. “I remained loyal to my values, as I have my entire career. I don’t know yet whether I made a political mistake, but I was willing to pay the price. I couldn’t sit quietly.”
Danon cited his achievements in the ministry as obtaining benefits for IDF reservists, bringing more Christians into the IDF and changing the process of drafting Ethiopians. He said that the first bill he would submit as a regular MK would legislate for a stoppage of electricity to the Gaza Strip every time a rocket is fired into Israel.
Asked if he saw himself serving under Netanyahu again in the future, he said. “If he returns to the Right, we’ll be able to work together. It’s impossible to say.”