Netanyahu Forces out Defense Minister Ya’alon, Risks Own Future

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon speaks during a press conference with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (unseen) at the defense ministry in the coastal city of Tel Aviv on August 2, 2014.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu has forced out his trusted defense minister, Moshe “Bogey” Ya’alon, who will be replaced by controversial right-wing politician Avigdor Lieberman, who has no experience in national security.

The move seals a deal between Netanyahu’s Likud and Lieberman’s Israel Beytenu party, effectively shoring up Netanyahu’s thin governing coalition after talks with the left-center Zionist Union party to form a national unity government collapsed.

Ya’alon, who had been Minister of Defense since 2012, resigned from the government rather than take the post of Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lieberman’s former post. Polls suggest that Israelis preferred the popular Ya’alon to remain in his post.

In November 2014, with new elections looming, Breitbart News called Ya’alon “Israel’s indispensable man,” an assessment based on his long military record and his unique strategic outlook. Virtually alone among western leaders, Ya’alon resists the idea that there is a “solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and prefers incremental action to short-term tactical gains. He came under criticism for allowing Hamas to remain in power in Gaza after Operation Protective Edge in 2014, but feared the chaos that might result from Gaza’s political collapse, including the possible rise of the Islamic State in the territory.

The gruff former Israel Defense Forces (IDF) chief of staff also triggered controversy by speaking plainly. In early 2014, he referred to  U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who was then pushing for a peace agreement, as “messianic” and “obsessive.”

Even though he is resigning, Ya’alon said he will not leave politics. He has hinted in the past at running for prime minister, and could represent an internal challenge to Netanyahu.

Though “Bibi” may have staved off a short-term political crisis by dumping Ya’alon, he may have sown the seeds of future political collapse — especially as U.S. President Barack Obama, whom Netanyahu was partly elected to oppose, nears his last days in office at the end of his second term in January.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. His new e-book, Leadership Secrets of the Kings and Prophets: What the Bible’s Struggles Teach Us About Today, is on sale through Amazon Kindle Direct. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.