‘Like letting a child play with matches’: Israeli Labor leader blasts Bennett’s bid for defense

Zionist Union Leader Avi Gabbay warned against appointing Jewish Home Party Head Naftali Bennett minister of defense.

By World Israel News Staff

Leader of the opposition Zionist Union Party, Avi Gabbay, warned against appointing Jewish Home Party Head Naftali Bennett as minister of defense. “It’s a bit like letting a child play with matches,” he said in an interview with Ynet news on Thursday morning.

“Let’s give it to someone more moderate and more responsible,” Gabbay said.

The Jewish Home Party issued an ultimatum on Wednesday evening, demanding that Bennett, who currently serves as education minister in the Netanyahu government, be handed the defense portfolio.

The current defense minister, Avigdor Liberman, announced his resignation yesterday, citing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s weak response in the face of Hamas attacks from the Gaza Strip.

Gabbay said he also opposes the appointment of Bennett “because the level of relations between Bennett and Netanyahu isn’t such that he [Netanyahu] particularly relies on him. I, as an Israeli, not as a politician, wouldn’t want the prime minister to appoint Bennett as defense minister.”

The Labor Party leader also expressed his satisfaction that Liberman was leaving, and attacked Netanyahu for appointing him in the first place, telling Ynet news, “In the main, I was happy. I think the time had arrived, I recall that I quit the government because of Liberman’s appointment as defense minister.

“I thought this wasn’t the right appointment, and it wasn’t appropriate to appoint such a man as the defense minister. Particularly after his promise to eliminate [Hamas leader Ismail] Haniyeh within 48 hours. Because the prime minister appointed Liberman knowing this was his promise, and knowing he wouldn’t be able to keep it.

“Part of the reason for our loss of deterrence is in this, because Hamas says, ‘Look, here’s the defense minister promising something and he doesn’t do it.’ We damaged our deterrence. Therefore, I think it’s good that Liberman quit.”