Ya'alon: I'll quit politics if ILA bill not changed

Vice premier accuses Netanyahu's aides of harming his image by portraying him as a political traitor and then a sell-out.

Moshe Yaalon 88 248 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Moshe Yaalon 88 248
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
A day after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu succeeded in passing his Israel Lands Administration reform plan, Vice Premier Moshe Ya'alon warned Tuesday that if it were not amended, he would quit the cabinet and public life. To pass the plan, Netanyahu worked out a compromise that included forming a committee headed by Ya'alon to examine adjusting the reform. Ya'alon said the majority of members on the committee agreed with him that state land should be leased long-term rather than sold, as called for in the bill that passed Monday. "I came to politics to have influence, and if I realize that I cannot implement my principles, I would have to reconsider my future," Ya'alon told Israel Radio. "I don't care about my cabinet seat or the perks of power. I see myself as a public servant." Ya'alon accused Netanyahu's aides of harming his image by portraying him as a political traitor and then a sell-out, even though he believes he remained loyal to his principles. He said there were "screw-ups" in the Prime Minister's Office. He confirmed statements in closed conversations attributed to him by Ma'ariv that he called the Prime Minister's Office a "crazy zoo" and warned Netanyahu that his aides shamed him. "I could leave [politics] in a second," Ya'alon said according to the report. "I am not a professional politician. They asked me to come, I hesitated and I decided to come help the country. I have no problem with saying 'shalom' and leaving. I have a lot of other things to do." Another minister who compromised ahead of Monday's vote, Habayit Hayehudi head Daniel Herschkowitz, remained embroiled in internal party squabbles on Tuesday. Party officials denied a report in Ha'aretz that Habayit Hayehudi was on the verge of splitting and that the old National Religious Party could return instead. The three Habayit Hayehudi MKs will meet on Thursday in the Lachish Regional Council offices to try to settle their differences. Another politician in turmoil, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, received a boost on Tuesday when his No. 2 in Israel Beiteinu, National Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau, defended him in an interview with Army Radio. Landau reacted to the incriminating evidence that has been leaked to the press since police decided to recommend corruption charges against Lieberman on Sunday. "It is wrong to conduct a lynch in the press without a trial," Landau said. "When I was internal security minister, I insisted that recommendations go directly to the state prosecutor's office and nothing get leaked to the press. Lieberman has acted properly."