Rassegna Stampa Elezioni Israeliane 2009

Monitoraggio attraverso i media internazionali delle elezioni in Israele del Febbraio 2009

ANALYSIS / Who will be the next defense minister?

Posted by claudiacampli su 15 febbraio, 2009


The election results, coupled with the growing expectations that Benjamin Netanyahu will be the next prime minister, place two main candidates at the forefront of the race for defense minister.

Netanyahu would prefer to keep the incumbent, Ehud Barak, but Labor’s miserable showing presumably will send Barak into the opposition.

This means that Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) and Moshe Ya’alon (Likud) are the two leading candidates.

Both are former paratroopers and Israel Defense Forces chiefs of staff. They worked together in the past, but now detest each other.

Mofaz is likely to return to the job, which he lost due to Ehud Olmert’s maneuverings in May 2006, if Netanyahu forms a unity government with Kadima. Ya’alon appears to be the leading candidate within Likud, although Netanyahu could choose to give the position to Yisrael Beiteinu – in which case, Avigdor Lieberman or Uzi Landau presumably would get the post.

It can be assumed that Netanyahu learned from Ehud Olmert’s mistake of choosing Amir Peretz as defense minister: Working on the assumption that the next defense minister will have to deal with a military escalation on at least one front, if not three (Iran, Syria and Hezbollah, Gaza), he is likely to want someone with proper experience, and that means Mofaz or Ya’alon.

Mofaz was chief of staff from 1998-2002, and four months later, Ariel Sharon appointed him defense minister. Ya’alon was deputy chief of staff during the last two years of Mofaz’s term and then replaced him in the top army job. Sharon and Mofaz “truncated” Ya’alon’s term, effectively pushing him out. He stepped down in June 2005, shortly before the Gaza disengagement. That is the root of the rancor between the two.

The main security challenge facing the next government is the Iranian nuclear threat. Both Ya’alon and Mofaz have hinted that Israel could attack Iran over the issue. The next defense minister will be greeted by a strong chief of staff, Gabi Ashkenazi, whose stock has risen in the wake of the Gaza operation. His relations with Mofaz are still somewhat strained, since Mofaz backed Sharon in picking Dan Halutz over Ashkenazi to replace Ya’alon.


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