Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin, the newest addition to the left-wing Zionist Camp list led by Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog, played up his defense bona fides in his first media interview as a politician on Monday evening.
The former fighter pilot and Military Intelligence chief told Channel 2 on Monday that politics was “not an obsession for me,” but that he believed Israel was headed in a “troubling direction” and needed to embark “on a new path.”
He was the Zionist Camp’s candidate for defense minister, he added.
Yadlin was asked by Channel 2 anchor Yonit Levy if he believed that the Zionist Camp’s No. 2, Hatnua party leader Tzipi Livni, was qualified to be defense minister.
“She is,” he replied, “but the question is if she wants to. Livni’s strengths are in foreign policy, in peace talks. The defense minister’s job is to give the security backing for the peace process.”
He vowed that “no diplomatic arrangement” would be negotiated “that does not ensure uncompromising security.”
Contradicting previous reports that suggested he had been appointed to slot No. 11 on the Labor list — a slot reserved for a Herzog appointee — Yadlin said his exact placement was uncertain. He may join the Labor list, or run “in a sort of Norwegian situation” — in which he may serve as a defense minister in a Herzog-led government without holding a Knesset seat.
Politics was “not an obsession for me,” Yadlin said, quoting a famous line from late Labor leader Yitzhak Rabin.
Earlier on Monday evening, Herzog and Livni held a press conference in Tel Aviv announcing that Yadlin had joined the list. Herzog praised Yadlin’s national security credentials.
“Yadlin is among the most influential captains of the defense establishment in recent decades, from the Yom Kippur War to his participation in the squadron that bombed the [nuclear] reactor in Iraq, and decades of service in the Israel Defense Forces,” he said of the former intelligence chief.
“Amos has proven himself to be a daring warrior, brave and responsible, who combines initiative with diplomatic wisdom. I was privileged together with Livni to see him in action as head of IDF intelligence in the most sensitive meetings in recent years,” Herzog added.
Herzog is the son of former IDF major general and Israel’s sixth president Chaim Herzog. Yadlin, too, comes from a political and military family. His father is former education minister and Israel Prize laureate Aharon Yadlin. He is the nephew of Uzi Narkis, who commanded the conquest of Jerusalem and the West Bank in the Six Day War, and the grandson of David Hacohen, a leader in Labor’s predecessor Mapai from Israel’s founding until 1969.
Herzog noted this shared background on Monday. “As the son of an education minister, Yadlin shares the view that there is no healthy society without security, and vice versa,” he said.
Yadlin possessed a “deep familiarity with [Israel’s] security challenges, especially in these days of regional convulsions… Amos is our candidate for defense minister,” the Labor chief concluded.