yiftah ron tal 209 IDF.
(photo credit: IDF)
Former OC Ground Forces Maj.-Gen. Yiftah Ron-Tal, who was discharged from the army by Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz on Wednesday night, said Thursday morning that he was not interested in becoming a politician.
Speculations arose that Ron-Tal would join the Likud Party after he held a meeting last week with Likud Chairman Binyamin Netanyahu. Ron-Tal dismissed the claims however, saying it was a random meeting.
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Ron-Tal, speaking to Israel Radio, blasted Halutz's decision to fire him, saying, "it is worthy of the Chief of Staff to first and foremost demand from himself what he so passionately demands from others, especially when lives and the security of the nation are at stake."
Halutz fired Ron-Tal on Wednesday night hours after he slammed the chief of staff and called for his resignation citing the failures of the war in Lebanon.
Halutz issued a press release saying that he had decided to fire Ron-Tal due to his comments which were "unfitting for a senior officer and member of the general staff."
Ron-Tal then claimed that he had already submitted a letter of resignation to Halutz before the chief of staff fired him.
"After 33 years of service I know when it is time to resign and to bid farewell to my comrades and my subordinates," Ron-Tal wrote in the letter.
Ron-Tal, who had only one month left of a one-year period of pre-retirement inactive service, was expected to join the Likud and run for the Knesset.
Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu told his associates on Wednesday night that he met with Ron-Tal last week but only discussed the war in Lebanon and nothing about politics. Netanyahu said he was surprised to hear that Ron-Tal gave an interview to a haredi newspaper in which he harshly criticized the management of the war and its top commanders, including Halutz.
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Ron-Tal hinted to the newspaper that he was interested in joining politics. Sources close to him said that he was an admirer of Netanyahu.
In the interview with the Kfar Habad weekly, Ron-Tal called on Halutz to step down due to what he called the military's failures during the recent war in Lebanon.
Ron-Tal said that those responsible for the fighting in Lebanon this past summer must be held accountable for the war's failure. Responsibility lay with both the military and political echelons, he said. He further claimed that there was a clear connection between the IDF's failure in the recent Lebanon war and its participation in the disengagement from Gaza last summer.
"The IDF, from a readiness standpoint, was well-prepared for this war," he said. "That wasn't the problem with this war...Our army last June and July was in a sufficient state of fitness to subdue Hizbullah, but the army dedicated most of its time to training for the disengagement, and therefore the training suffered."
"It was not on such a level that it was impossible to fight, but there was a need to remove the rust in the first days of fighting. Did the army have to participate in the disengagement? It wasn't its job to evacuate Jews, which was non-consensual, and it, as the army of the people, was not supposed to do that," Ron-Tal said.
An IDF spokesman responded by saying that it was "unworthy for an officer on retirement leave, and still receiving a salary from the military, to criticize the State of Israel's political echelon." The spokesman added that Ron-Tal's remarks were out of place considering that as OC Ground Forces and a member of the General Staff, he helped plan and implement the unilateral Gaza withdrawal.
The only way to properly investigate the mishaps that led to the IDF's poor showing during the war was to establish a state-appointed commission of inquiry in place of the Winograd Committee set up by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Ron-Tal said.
MK Uri Ariel said Ron-Tal's condemnation of the IDF's participation in the disengagement reflected the opinion of most senior IDF officers.
"The problem is that they don't stand behind their opinions and say this when the chips are down," he said, calling on all senior IDF officers to reveal how strongly they had opposed disengagement.