Forget about Israel’s election deadlock. Former IDF chief Staff, Gadi Eizenkot, has just captured the headlines. From Washington, where he is attending a prestigious think tank, Gen. Eizenkot gave an interview with the Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot. Now out of uniform, he pulled no punches.
First, to the Hamas terror attacks from Gaza – Hamas has launched thousands of firebombs terrorizing Israeli civilians inside the Israeli border. Eizenkot took issue Netanyahu’s handling of the situation and for even allowing tens of millions of dollars to be sent into Gaza from Qatar as a payoff to Hamas for lessening the attacks.
“Strengthening Hamas in Gaza is a grave mistake. We need to bring about the fall of Hamas over Gaza.”
And what of Bibi’s pre-election proposals of a possible defense pact with the US? Again, Eizenkot took issue saying that this would hamper Israeli military operations. In his words, “Such a military pact with the US is superfluous – there’s no sense to it.”
On another operational issue, Eizenkot was critical of Netanyahu’s change in the policy of remaining silent about preemptive Israeli airstrikes against Hamas and Iranian targets. Until recently, Israel had simply not responded publicly. But Netanyahu, apparently, changed this approach in advance of the Israeli elections. The idea was that by not taking credit for these preemptive strikes, Hezbollah and the Iranians would not feel pressured to escalate the situation to save face.
But not only Netanyahu but also former defense minister Avigdor Lieberman were hauled over the coals by Eizenkot. In one case Liberman had apposed the IDF’s destroying of Hezbollah attack tunnel which had been excavated by Hezbollah from southern Lebanon into Israel. Eizenkot told Lieberman, “With all due respect, I serve under you, but I am also subordinate to the cabinet.” Eizenkot then advised the cabinet to authorize the destruction of the tunnels, which was carried out. And he added that more than once a senior political figure would advise me, “We need to go to war here or there.” However, after the chief of staff presented his considered opinion, such proposals were struck off the agenda.
When it came to those calling for a cut in Israel’s defense budget in light of current economic troubles, Eizenkot replied, “We must not take unnecessary risks. To reduce our weapons inventories would pose a grave risk to our national security.”
On a previous occasion, Eizenkot warned that Iran’s overall goal is to acquire a nuclear capability. This is nothing new. However, in Eizenkot’s view, the Ayatollahs have adopted the model of North Korea, and although he did not refer to actual collaboration between the two countries, it can be assumed that Tehran has been paying off North Korea to acquire a nuclear status. The implications should be apparent to one and all, however, the US seems to be the only one actively involved in trying to prevent it while that is still possible. Starting with France in the lead, American’s European allies still follow the “peace in our time “slogan.
Meanwhile, at the UN general assembly, Iranian President Rouhani took to the podium professing that his country has no intention of threatening Arab neighbors with nuclear weapons, or anything else. This just a few days after the Iranians launched a devastation missile strike on Saudi Arabia’s oil installations. With a straight face, the Iranian leader declared, “The US is not our neighbor. It is the Islamic Republic of Iran that is your neighbor.” That tells it all in a nutshell. The Muslim Shiite Regime is bent on dominating its Sunni Muslim Arab friends. Saudi Arabia is clearly in Tehran’s sights after Iran’s Revolutionary Guards helped to keep Syria under President Assad’s control. Assad’s Alawite clan in Syria are considered to be Shiite Muslims.
Israeli Election Conundrum
So President Reuven Rivlin has given Prime Minister Netanyahu first crack at trying to form a new coalition government. What are his chances? Not very high – he needs the support of the Blue & White party who’s leader, Benny Gantz, declared that he would not join up with Netanyahu, who faces charges of fraud and breach of trust. So, although the Israeli election was held on September 17, we still don’t know if anyone can forge a 61-seat majority of the 120-member Knesset. Don’t try and understand why neither Netanyahu nor Gantz will be able to untie or cut this Gordian Knot. It’s like looking into a kaleidoscope that changes dramatically with every tiny move when it comes to who will support who, etc. And if this weren’t enough, Bibi’s pretrial hearing before the Attorney General begins on October 2. On this score, Gantz is adamant that there is no way he will join a national unity government with a leader who may soon be officially charged.
If there is no breakthrough to this political madhouse, Israeli voters may again go to the polls in the third election in just a year. Bibi, as confident as ever, contends that he is as clean as the driven snow, and shows no sign of backing down.