Thursday, January 21, 2016

Never more isolated: Bennett, Lapid slam Netanyahu's government

Moran Azulay,

image from

Education minister criticizes defense policy, saying it is becoming outdated, while Yesh Atid chairman says Israel has never in its history been more diplomatically isolated.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Bayit Yehudi) and Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid slammed the government on Tuesday at the annual convention of the Institute for National Security Studies.

"All the expensive F-35s will not help in the face of 50 commandos digging the way to Netiv HaAsara," said Bennett. The minister argued that Israel is reacting to existing realities rather than shaping its own destiny. He further said that Israel must modernize its thinking about defense and not only weapons.

To illustrate his point, Bennett used the example of companies like Kodak and Nokia collapsing. "These companies didn't collapse because of faulty management, but because of an attitude that became irrelevant," he said.

Bennett also spoke defiantly about the removal of sanctions from Iran, which began this week. "We were told earlier and this evening that Iran is the enemy and Hezbollah is only an operational branch," he said. "If so, we have to discuss whether we should devote all our efforts to damage the operational branch, while we create a position of immunity for the enemy itself. We must ask ourselves how it's possible that in every conflict with Hamas and Hezbollah, we bleed, but the head of the snake has enjoyed immunity until now."

Lapid, for his part, focused on the government's public diplomacy policy and the Foreign Ministry's activities. "Never, in all Israeli history, was our situation worse than it is now," he said. "Our rift with the United States is the worst we have never known. It's not just the relationship between Netanyahu and Obama, but between Israel and the US. Yesterday's announcement by the EU foreign ministers drives home the point that relations with Europe are also not good.

"Just when the foreign service is more critical than ever for national security, instead of strengthening it, the prime minister decided for very narrow political considerations to split the ministry's powers between six different ministers and a deputy minister, who complicate and obfuscate the picture further," stated the former minister.

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