Defense minister shuns deputy over two-state comments

Danon calls working relationship with his boss ‘excellent’; Ya’alon says he’s no longer responsible for Danon

Aaron Kalman is a former writer and breaking news editor for the Times of Israel

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon (photo credit: Avi Ohayon/GPO/Flash90)
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon (photo credit: Avi Ohayon/GPO/Flash90)

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon was displeased with Danny Danon’s appointment as his deputy after January’s elections and limited the latter’s responsibilities as much as possible, but last week’s interview with The Times of Israel was the last straw, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Monday.

Danon’s comments, to the effect that the government is opposed to the establishment of a Palestinian state, were the straw that broke the camel’s back in the relationship between the defense minister and his deputy, the paper reported.

“I’ve given up [my] responsibility for him a long time ago. Don’t come to me with complaints” about Danon, Ya’alon was quoted as saying behind closed doors by the Hebrew daily.

According to Yedioth, since Danon’s appointment as No. 2 in the Defense Ministry, Ya’alon “seriously curtailed [Danon’s] powers as his deputy, reduced as much as possible his meetings with military personnel and didn’t permit him to appoint [for himself] a military aide.”

Danon drew fire from both within the coalition and in the opposition after he told The Times of Israel that most of the governing coalition was opposed to a two-state solution and would block the creation of a Palestinian state if such a proposal ever came to a vote.

German Ambassador Andreas Michaelis, right, and MK Danny Danon (photo credit: courtesy Knesset)
MK Danny Danon (photo credit: courtesy Knesset)

In a hitherto unpublished comment from the same interview, Danon, who served as a lieutenant during his IDF service, told The Times of Israel that he and Ya’alon were a “very good match,” because the minister possesses an intimate knowledge of the IDF, while Danon brings a “civilian approach” to the Defense Ministry leadership.

“I think that if you look a the work that I do with Minster Ya’alon, it is a very good match,” Danon said, asserting that there is good chemistry between them. “We worked together before in the Knesset, when he was minister of strategic affairs, and today we work together very well.”

In response to the Yedioth Ahronoth report, Danon’s spokesperson said the working relations between his and Ya’alon’s offices “were excellent.”

Ya’alon heads to Washington on Thursday for his first official visit since being appointed defense minister. He’ll meet with US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, and the two will reportedly discuss intelligence and military cooperation between the countries, especially regarding Iran’s nuclear program and the situation in Syria.

Raphael Ahren contributed to this report. 

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