OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh criticized the government's decision to disengage from the Gaza Strip a year and a half ago and called Israel's leadership weak in a speech he gave in Ariel last week. The general's political comments were made at a closed event to commemorate Independence Day and were reported by the NRG Web site on Thursday. Naveh said of disengagement that "from the beginning I said that there is no security justification for this, it was a political decision and its motives might be investigated one day."
Analysis: A maverick general's farewell
Naveh, who is Orthodox, commanded the evacuation of four settlements in northern Samaria during disengagement and was also in charge of the evacuation of the Amona outpost in February 2006 that resulted in a bloody confrontation between anti-disengagement protesters and security forces.
People critical of the West Bank evacuations that took place under his command have been holding vigils opposite Naveh's Givat Shmuel home every Saturday night for three months.
"The settlements here are not temporary and are not dependent on political beliefs. We are leading the [Central] Command to create an infrastructure for Jewish life for another 2,000 years at least. The differences between us are not about the vision, but on the means of attaining it," Naveh said in Ariel.
Discussing the geopolitical situation, Naveh said "2007 is a year characterized by weakness of the leaders on their homeground. This isn't just a issue here, also in the US. It creates great challenges in the area of leadership."
Naveh has made controversial remarks in the past. Last year he caused a diplomatic incident with Jordan when he predicted that the Hashemite dynasty would not last another generation.
Naveh is to retire from the IDF this summer after not being offered a new posting and his latest statements are seen as an attempt to repair his relationship with the settlers before he steps down.