Former candidate for chief of staff says the appointment “does not serve Israel’s security.”
By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
Aliyah and Absorption Minister Yoav Galant cast the sole dissenting vote when the cabinet approved the appointment Sunday of New Right leader Naftali Bennett to replace Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as minister of defense.
Netanyahu had served for almost a year as the interim defense minister.
Galant, a former major general who commanded the Southern region during Operation Cast Lead against Hamas in December 2008-January 2009, does not think Bennett was the right man for the job.
“Israel is in a complex and sensitive period for its security. This appointment does not serve Israel’s security, and therefore I will vote against it,” he said at the meeting. “I will continue to do my best to help the prime minister and the security apparatus to protect Israel’s security.”
Kan News reported Sunday night that Galant’s measured words stood in contrast to his emotions. According to reporter Micha Shemesh, eyewitnesses said he was “seething” at the political price paid by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to merge the New Right into Likud so that the combined faction of 35 MKs would be larger than Blue and White’s 33.
Gallant had spoken very forcefully in private conversations against the move, the news report said.
“The job of minister of defense is not a political game. Not everything is for sale. [Netanyahu] is making a mistake…. There are limits even in politics. The appointment is irresponsible and inappropriate,” he allegedly told other ministers.
Galant reportedly sees himself as a future candidate for defense minister with his extensive military background. Netanyahu had actually approved his appointment as IDF chief of staff in September 2010, following his success in deterring Hamas the previous year. However, the appointment was cancelled several months later due to legal allegations against him about land he allegedly has used improperly on his moshav.
Galant entered politics as No. 2 on the new Kulanu list and served as housing and construction minister in the last government. He then quit Kulanu to join the Likud at the end of 2018, immediately becoming minister of aliyah and absorption.
Bennett, meanwhile, said that he is taking on his new post “out of a deep sense of responsibility for Israel’s security.”
“I have fought for Israel’s security my whole life. I thank Prime Minister Netanyahu for his trust in me. I will work with him for Israel’s security,” he said after the appointment went through.