Left-wing MKs accuse Netanyahu of starting war for political advantage

The comments drew criticism from MKs on the Right and the Left

Labor MK Omer Bar-Lev 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Labor MK Omer Bar-Lev 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Lawmakers on the Left accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for authorizing the assassination of an Islamic Jihad leader in Gaza on Tuesday for political advantage, and were met by sharp criticism for their remarks by MKs on the Right and Left.
Labor-Gesher MK Omer Bar-Lev said “senior Islamic Jihad members like Abu al-Ata deserve to die and the long arm of the IDF can reach anyone.
“However,” he added, “I cannot help but feel that the security of the state and the command to strike the senior jihadi were cynically taken advantage of for political means.”
Bar-Lev pointed out that the strike took place hours before Naftali Bennett became defense minister, and called Bennett “inexperienced” and someone who can “inherit a war that was started in haste.”
MK Stav Shaffir of Democratic Union said that "unfortunately, if in the past we could unite quietly behind the government's decisions, today it is difficult not to ask questions about the timing.
"We should have brought back our deterrence and security long ago. Not during an interim government, when someone else has the mandate [to form the next government] and when every decision Netanyahu makes has a cloud of suspicion floating above it. This is a dangerous situation," Shaffir said.
Several Joint List MKs blamed Netanyahu’s political and legal situation for the attack.
“Is Netanyahu truly uninterested in an escalation?” MK Yousef Jabareen asked. Netanyahu decided to start a military campaign now, for obvious political reasons. Either to distract from his corruption or to make a unity government more likely so he can stay in his job. Netanyahu is war-mongering due to personal political interests. We must oppose this war.”
MK Ofer Cassif said: “In order to save his skin, Netanyahu is turning to the only thing he is able to do: Killing, destruction and warmongering. The bloodshed is on his head.”
"Netanyahu's cynicism and cruelty know no limits," MK Aida Touma-Sliman tweeted. "He started a war as a political trick."
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said the Joint List’s response proves they should not be part of the next coalition.
"The Joint List were the only ones who came out with political statements, explaining it was a political decision,” he said. “This is very disappointing. It makes it even more clear how irresponsible having a coalition or government based on the Joint List [would be].”
Edelstein clarified that this has “nothing to do with the ethnic origin of the members of Knesset. It has to do with a basic approach to security of our own citizens, Jews, Arabs, Druse or Circassians. The missiles from Gaza don’t know the difference.”
Deputy Defense Minister Avi Dichter slammed the MKs, criticizing the “miserable statement that the action was done to sabotage a narrow government led by Gantz.”
“It’s been a long time since we’ve heard someone so senior talk such nonsense with such confidence,” he stated.
Likud faction chairman Miki Zohar said: "I have read and heard a growing number of statements trying to present this security event as a political act, and I suggest they calm down. These kinds of actions are not initiated by the government, they are [decided on] by the IDF."
Labor-Gesher leader Amir Peretz criticized the claims in his party and those to its left.
"This is not the time for us to ask political questions," he said. "There will be enough time for analysis and commentary. The security of the citizens of Israel comes before all other considerations."
MK Ram Ben-Barak of Blue and White said he "rejects the claims about the timing of the attack. There is no better time to assassinate Abu al-Ata, which has nothing to do with the political situation. We are still working towards a unity government."