Ya'alon and Bennett.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The spat between Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett over credit for deciding to destroy Hamas terrorist tunnels in Operation Protective Edge continued on Tuesday.
“The prime minister and I had to publicly criticize the behavior of some of the ministers in the cabinet during the operation [in the Gaza Strip last summer],” Ya’alon told Army Radio.
“Whoever tries to use a war for political reasons is anathema to me,” he added.
Ya’alon’s comments were an apparent reference to Bennett saying he was the first to bring a proposal to destroy Hamas’s tunnels to the security cabinet.
The Bayit Yehudi chairman has repeated his version of the events, which Ya’alon denies, over the course of the election campaign, saying that when the meetings’ minutes are declassified, he will be proven right.
The defense minister has also criticized Bennett for going out in the field on his own and speaking to soldiers and officers without coordinating with him.
Ya’alon refused to comment on whether or not Bennett is an appropriate candidate for defense minister, the portfolio that sources close to the Bayit Yehudi chairman say he wants, saying it depends on the coalition.
Bennett was in the US to support Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as he spoke to both houses of Congress, but his office slammed Ya’alon.
“We will not deal in politics while the prime minister and Bennett are on a national mission in the US, and we call on the defense minister to behave the same way,” Bennett’s office said. “The defense minister’s votes to prevent the operation to destroy the tunnels speak for themselves, but despite that, he should maintain his composure.”
Sources close to Bennett said “the public should know who demanded to destroy the tunnels, and who tried to stop that action. As someone who is responsible for Israeli citizens’ security, Bogie Ya’alon must allow the citizens of Israel to know the truth.”
The source called for the cabinet meeting protocols to be declassified and said the public must know whether the defense minister has good judgment or not.