Former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon on Saturday slammed coalition chairman and Likud MK David Bitan for his “dangerous and inciting” remarks condemning senior Israeli security officials for “becoming leftists” over time.
Taking to Twitter, Ya’alon criticized Bitan for fueling “the systemic and dangerous political attempts to destroy the security establishment and incite against its leadership.”
“This is shameful and worrying, we will pay a heavy price for this,” he added.
At a Beersheba cultural event earlier on Saturday, Bitan called Ya’alon’s leadership “problematic,” telling his audience: “Something happens to you over the years in these positions… over the years the heads of Shin Bet and Mossad become leftists.”
Bitan said the late Meir Dagan, who headed Mossad between 2002-2011 and became a fierce critic of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after leaving the job, “was an extreme rightist when he entered Mossad, but came out the opposite.”
He was likely also referring to former Shin Bet heads Yuval Diskin, Ami Ayalon and Carmi Gillon as well as former Mossad chiefs Shabtai Shavit, Danny Yatom and Efraim Halevy — all critics of Netanyahu and his policies concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In a 2012 documentary titled “The Gatekeepers,” all six living former heads of the Shin Bet made plain their belief that an accommodation with the Palestinians is a security imperative for Israel.
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog chimed in, saying that recent remarks by Likud lawmakers against the Mossad, Shin Bet, courts, police and army pointed to the party “declaring war on the state.”
“Bitan said dangerous things this morning. You could joke about them, you could think they were the slip of the tongue, but I think he understands perfectly well what he said. Bitan dared to lash out at the security chiefs, to hint that their positions on matters of life and death are affected by politics and thus effectively tell the public: I don’t trust them — you don’t need to trust them,” he said on Facebook.
In his speech, Bitan went on to attack Ya’alon, saying “Who should we believe, Ya’alon of two months ago who said the prime minister was good, or Ya’alon of today?”
Ya’alon left the Knesset in May after being ousted from his post and replaced with Avigdor Liberman, and has since repeatedly leveled harsh criticism against Netanyahu.
Bitan added that Ya’alon was a problematic defense minister as “he was a ‘boosted’ chief of staff. We don’t need a defense minister who serves the army instead of the political system. There’s a problem with chiefs of staff who become defense ministers, they think it’s a position for life.”