Netanyahu summons Ya’alon for ‘clarification meeting’ after heated exchange

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu summoned Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon to his office on Monday for a “clarification meeting” after the two came head to head on Sunday evening in a public exchange of remarks regarding the IDF.

Speaking to the IDF’s top brass, including the IDF chief and other generals, Ya’alon urged the military leadership to “continue acting according to human conscience and compass, rather than follow the direction the wind blows.”

While the defense minister was still speaking at the ceremony in the Kirya Army Headquarters in Tel Aviv, the Prime Minister’s Office was outraged by Ya’alon’s remarks and said that Netanyahu “gives full backing to the IDF, its commanders and soldiers. IDF commanders say their opinions freely in the relevant forums on issues under their responsibility. The IDF is the people’s army and must be kept out of political debates.”

The PMO statement went on to further condemn a controversial statement made by Deputy IDF Chief Yair Golan on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, noting that “the prime minister remains steadfast in his opinion that the comparison (of events unfolding in Israel) to Nazi Germany was inappropriate, made at an inappropriate time, and caused Israel damage on the international stage. The IDF’s commanders freely speak their minds—in relevant forums and on topics under their purview. The IDF is the army of the people, and should be kept out of political disputes.”

Golan’s speech was met with scathing criticism from all directions, including from the prime minister himself who condemned the comparison made by the deputy IDF chief as “outrageous” and noted the remarks “wrong Israeli society and cheapen the Holocaust.”

The defense minister and prime minister have also found themselves at odds over Sgt. Elor Azaria, who was charged with manslaughter after shooting dead an Arab terrorist in Hevron.

While the defense minister and the top military ranks condemned the incident and called to bring the soldier to justice, the prime minister called the soldier’s father to offer words of support.