Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon May Be Voice of Moderation on Iran

Shares Netanyahu's Hardline Views on Palestinians

Loyal Soldier: Moshe Yaalon is a strong ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but has a record of breaking ranks when he perceives unreasonable risks.
getty images
Loyal Soldier: Moshe Yaalon is a strong ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but has a record of breaking ranks when he perceives unreasonable risks.

By Reuters

Published March 17, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Although Benjamin Netanyahu’s next defence minister shares his deep distrust of the Palestinians, the two could yet clash about when - and whether - Israel should go to war with Iran.

Ex-general Moshe Yaalon is a loyalist of Netanyahu’s Likud party who, as a senior if sometimes sidelined member of the outgoing coalition government, routinely boosted the rightist prime minister and his strategic outlook.

But the hulking, bespectacled Yaalon, 62, also has a record of breaking ranks when he perceives unreasonable risks.

As military intelligence commander in the mid-1990s he disagreed with the left-leaning government’s optimism about fledgling peace talks with the Palestinians. Promoted to armed forces chief of staff, he saw his tenure cut short after he opposed Israel’s plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip in 2005.

Those objections dovetailed with Netanyahu’s, who cites repeated Palestinian revolts against the Jewish state, and the Islamist Hamas takeover of Gaza, as justifying his reluctance to give up the occupied West Bank.

The ideologue Netanyahu and the plain-talking, part-time farmer Yaalon have, however, differed in private about tackling Tehran’s nuclear drive, a more remote and formidable challenge.

An Israeli official said Yaalon was among half the ministers in Netanyahu’s inner security cabinet who, in the past, voted down his proposals to attack Iran in defiance of U.S. calls to hold fire while international sanctions are escalated instead.

“Yaalon is hawkish about the Palestinians like Netanyahu, but he is cautious on Iran,” said Amotz Asa-El, fellow at the liberal Jerusalem think-tank Hartman Institute, who has followed the incoming defence minister’s military and political career.

He said Yaalon might serve as a “counter-weight” to any renewed bid by Netanyahu to go to war - unless Israel receives hard intelligence its arch-foe is about to build a bomb, in which case, Asa-El argued, cabinet support could be unanimous.

WELCOME IN WASHINGTON?

The Iranians deny their nuclear projects have hostile designs and point to Israel’s assumed atomic arsenal as the main regional menace. While advancing sensitive uranium enrichment, they resumed talks on a compromise with world powers last month.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • “I don’t want to say, ‘Oh oh, I’m not Jewish,’ because when you say that, you sound like someone trying to get into a 1950s country club, “and I love the idea of being Jewish." Are you a fan of Seth Meyers?
  • "If you want my advice: more Palestinians, more checkpoints, just more reality." What do you think?
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.