Ya’alon says he will run to lead Israel

Former Israeli defense minister Moshe Ya’alon on Thursday announced that he intended to run for the leadership of Israel in the next elections, Israeli media outlets report.

In a speech at the Herzliya Conference, Ya’alon excoriated the country’s leadership, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in particular, whom he accused of seeking to spread and exploit fear.

“At this time there is no existential threat to Israel, not even the Iranian threat, so the leadership would do well to cease frightening the citizens and scaring them about a second Holocaust,” said the former Netanyahu ally.

Ya’alon resigned from his government role and Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, last month. As he publicly announced his resignation, he blasted  what he termed the “extreme elements” taking over the Likud party and the country.

Ya’alon was a member of Likud, the party led by Netanyahu. Netanyahu appointed Avigdor Lieberman to replace Ya’alon as defense minister as part of a successful bid to bring in the Israel  Beitenu party into the government coalition.

Likud responded to Ya’alon’s speech by saying: “It is entertaining to see how quickly Ya’alon has done an about face. It was just a few months ago that he said: ‘Iran is an existential threat to Israel,’ and today at the Herzliya Conference, upon turning into a politician, he said that there is no existential threat to Israel. Apparently, what one sees from there, one does not see from here.”