Knesset panel: Gov’t hindering IDF preparedness

The Prime Minister's Office pushed back on the Knesset report.

sraeli lawmakers attend a vote on a bill at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem February 6, 2017 (photo credit: AMMAR AWAD / REUTERS)
sraeli lawmakers attend a vote on a bill at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem February 6, 2017
(photo credit: AMMAR AWAD / REUTERS)
The government’s indecisiveness is preventing the IDF from being prepared for future scenarios, a Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee report on the IDF’s implementation of its five-year plan found.
“The government level is avoiding meeting its responsibility to command the army, to give clear instructions and make sure they are implemented… and that hurts the army’s ability to fulfill its mission,” said subcommittee on Building Defense Strategy and Power chairman Ofer Shelah (Yesh Atid).
In describing the report, Shelah said all the problems found with the government and National Security Council after Operation Protective Edge still exist and they have not learned any lessons from the experience, whereas the IDF has.
The Prime Minister’s Office accused Shelah of “using the report and the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee as a political battering ram,” and supported the argument by referring to MKs Yoav Kisch of Likud and Moti Yogev of Bayit Yehudi, who refused to sign it.
“The citizens of Israel know that Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu is leading an informed security policy that protects Israel’s security in the stormy Middle East,” the PMO added.
Shelah said he didn’t write the report to criticize the government, but “because it’s our army and we need it to succeed.”
Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Avi Dichter, of Likud, made similar comments, saying people “shouldn’t think this report is political and not professional… It’s not a political report, period.”
However, Kisch and Yogev’s refusal to sign the report fueled rumors of political pressure not to sign on to criticism of Netanyahu.
Coalition chairman David Bitan (Likud) denied to The Jerusalem Post that there was any pressure, as did Dichter at the press briefing about the report.
Kisch said that, while he agreed with the report’s findings, “MK Shelah chose a language and style… that are disrespectful and that is not my way… When we want to fix things, we should use constructive criticism and not cheap spitefulness. I chose to refuse to join Shelah… who is trying to earn seats in the Knesset at the cost of Israel’s security.
There’s a time for politics and a time for real criticism.”
Yogev said he didn’t sign the report because he felt more of it should be classified, and drew different conclusions from its findings.
The Foreign Affairs and Defense subcommittee worked on the report throughout 2015-16 during more than 30 meetings and site visits examining the IDF’s implementation of its “Gideon” five-year plan at all levels. The report is 54 pages long, of which 24 are classified.
The MKs found Gideon to be a worthy plan, its implementation was going well in its first year, and the IDF is focused on preparing for its core missions. They also commended the IDF for cooperating with the subcommittee.
However, the report lists several obstacles the IDF faces. First, Gideon was “designed from the bottom to the top,” meaning that the IDF wrote the plan without receiving instructions or strategy from the political level and without any influence on the National Security Council. This can lead to the two sides being unable to coordinate responses that are realistic for the IDF.
The IDF Spokesperson said the IDF welcomes the Knesset’s oversight and that it will go over the report in detail and draw conclusions.