(photo credit: Channel 1)
Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror will be the next head of the National Security Council, replacing Uzi Arad, whose resignation went into effect earlier this week, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced Wednesday.
Amidror’s appointment is expected to draw criticism from the Left because of his right-wing views. Amidror was a sharp critic of the disengagement from the Gaza Strip, and at the beginning of Operation Cast Lead called for Israel to retake the area.
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“One of our problems since the Oslo Accords, and even more so since a presentation of the achievements we were supposed to gain from the disengagement from Gaza, is that we are sold illusions, and the citizens are not told the truth,” Amidror wrote on December 28, 2008, in a column in Yisrael Hayom.
He said that the country’s citizens have a tendency not to “recognize the hard truth, and as a result, the politicians tend to sell illusions.”
The truth, he wrote, was that retaking Gaza is the only way to stop the rocket attacks from Gaza that only increased after the Gaza withdrawal.
Alongside Amidror, and some observers says as a counterbalance to him, Netanyahu is expected to name a new foreign policy adviser as well.
Netanyahu, in appointing Amidror, indicated he was well aware that Amidror might be a lightning rod for criticism, saying in a statement announcing the appointment that the newly appointed NSC head “has not hesitated to express his professional opinions.”
Netanyahu also said Amidror possessed vast military, strategic and security knowledge and experience.
Former Meretz MKs Zehava Gal-On and Naomi Chazan and a group of left-wing authors and artists signed an open letter condemning Amidror’s appointment.
The group called Amidror a “1930s-style fascist.”
Kadima MK Otniel Schneller responded by calling the signatories “extreme leftists who regularly poison wells of hatred among our people.”
Amidror entered the IDF in 1966 and joined the Paratroops Battalion, fighting during the Six Day War both in Gaza and in the Golan. He was later transferred to the Intelligence Branch, and steadily rose in the military ranks, serving variously as head of the Military Intelligence research and assessment division; as defense minister Yitzhak Mordechai’s military attaché; and finally as commander of the IDF’s military colleges.
When he was promoted to commander of the military colleges in 1998, Amidror became the first religious officer – outside the chief rabbi – to be promoted to the general staff.
After leaving the army in 2002, Amidror served in a number of public capacities, including as a member of the Meridor Committee to establish the country’s security policy, chairman of a team appointed after the Second Lebanon War to examine intelligence operations during the war, and as chairman of HaBayit Hayehudi’s public committee that selected the party leader Daniel Herschkowitz in 2008.
Currently he is a military analyst for Yisrael Hayom and vice president of the Lander Institute in Jerusalem.
Amidror’s long public service has not been without controversy.
He was sharply criticized in the late 1990s for saying in an interview
that “secular Israelis are nothing but Hebrew-speaking Gentiles,” with
then Meretz MK Yossi Sarid calling for his dismissal.
Just last week, Haaretz
featured as its lead story a report claiming that Amidror “told a
conference last year that soldiers should kill anyone who gets in the
way of completing their mission – and that soldiers who refuse to attack
should be shot, too.”
“A soldier who won’t attack when they tell him ‘forward’ because he
says, ‘Two soldiers to my right and two to my left have been killed, so I
won’t move’ – any normal military system should put a bullet in his
head, and a liberal system should put him in jail,” Amidror was quoted
as saying, at a conference organized by the Israel Democracy Institute.
Amidror, in an Israel Radio interview the next day, said his comments were taken way out of context, and accused Haaretz
of waging an “anti-Semitic and primitive” campaign to ensure that someone wearing a kippa, who holds different opinions than Haaretz
, doesn’t get the NSC position.