Members of Israel’s 33rd (modern) government took the oath of office in Jerusalem today. Below is a list of the key players. But after the Prime Minister himself, the man to watch is new Defense Minister Moshe (“Bogie”) Yaalon.
Those who have watched the Epicenter documentary film will recall that Yaalon told me that war with Iran is “inevitable.”
“The problem,” he said, “is a lack of clarity in the West. Actually, Western people are sleeping [to the threat of jihadist attack]….Only a few leaders understand it. And we need to wake up. We need an awakening. Otherwise, it will be too late.”
“The confrontation with this regime [in Iran] is inevitable,” Yaalon noted. “And it’s going to be a military one, rather than a political one, because of the lack of determination when it comes to the international community to deal with it with economic and political means. And we can’t avoid it.”
Those who attended the 2010 Epicenter Conference in Philadelphia will recall that Yaalon was our keynote speaker, and received three standing ovations. In his message, and in my interview with him following his remarks, Yaalon noted that a war between Israel and Iran may not be far off and warned Iranian leaders to choose “The Bomb” or “survival.” Yaalon said at the time that he agreed with the U.S. assessment that Iran is between one and three years away from acquiring a nuclear weapon. He said there was still time to stop Iran, but time was running out.
So who is Moshe Yaalon and why do his views matter so much? I don’t see Yaalon as eager to go to war, but he is ready if it’s necessary. Indeed, I believe he is the right man for this job at this time. Here is a quick snapshot of why he is now the man to watch:
- Yaalon is a thoughtful, reserved, brilliant and principled man who would oversee Israel’s war(s) with Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas, should they be necessary.
- A highly experienced and decorated officer and commander in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).
- Served as head of military intelligence.
- Served as IDF chief of staff under Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, but left office when he sharply disagreed with Sharon’s decision to unilaterally surrender the Gaza Strip.
- A highly-trusted counselor to Netanyahu.
- Served as Vice Prime Minister and Minister for Strategic Affairs in last government.
- A hardliner against making hasty and unwise concessions to the Palestinian Authority.
- While not opposed in principle to a preemptive strike against Iran, Yaalon has been a voice of caution to Netanyahu and former Defense Minister Ehud Barak about moving too fast, and moving without American support and coordination.
- Here’s his official bio.
- FYI: January 12th blog: “With elections fast approaching, will this man be Israel’s next Defense Minister?”
THE NEW ISRAELI GOVERNMENT
- Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud) – Prime Minister
- Moshe Ya’alon (Likud) – Defense Minister
- Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) – Foreign Minister-designate [Under indictment on corruption charges; cannot become Foreign Minister unless he is cleared of all charges, or convicted of lesser charges and not guilty of “moral turpitude.”]
- Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) – Finance Minister [see blog: “Who is Yair Lapid? And how did he suddenly become the 2nd most powerful man in Israel?”]
- Gideon Sa’ar (Likud) – Interior Minister [a solid and widely respected leader within the Israeli political world, close confidante of Netanyahu, previously served as Education Minister; spoke at the 2008 Epicenter Conference in Jerusalem]
- Shay Piron (Yesh Atid) – Education Minister
- Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi) – Economy and Trade Minister [see blog: “Who is Naftali Bennett & why is his party climbing so fast in the polls?”]
- Tzipi Livni (Hatnua) – Justice Minister
- Yael German (Yesh Atid) – Health Minister
- Yisrael Katz (Yisrael Beiteinu) – Transportation Minister
- Gilad Erdan (Likud) – Communications and Home Front Defense Minister
- Silvan Shalom (Likud) – Regional Development, Water and Energy Resources Minister
- Uri Ariel (Habayit Hayehudi) – Housing Minister
- Yuval Steinitz (Likud) – Minister for International, Intelligence and Strategic Affairs
- Uri Orbach (Habayit Hayehudi) – Minister for Pensioners Affairs
- Meir Cohen (Yesh Atid) – Welfare Minister
- Yaakov Peri (Yesh Atid) – Science Minister
- Amir Peretz (Hatnua) – Environmental Protection Minister
- Sofa Landver (Yisrael Beiteinu) – Immigrant Absorption Minister
- Uzi Landau (Yisrael Beiteinu) – Tourism Minister
- Yair Shamir (Yisrael Beiteinu) – Agriculture Minister
- Yitzhak Aharonovitch (Yisrael Beiteinu) – Internal Security Minister
- Limor Livnat (Likud) – Culture and Sports Minister
- Eli Ben-Dahan (Habayit Hayehudi) – Deputy Minister for Religious Affairs
- Mickey Levy (Yesh Atid) – Deputy Welfare Minister
- Danny Danon (Likud) – Deputy Defense Minister
- Zeev Elkin (Likud) – Deputy Foreign Minister
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