Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer addressed the outcomes of the Navy's raid on the Gaza-bound flotilla on Saturday and criticized the decision makers.
"There were errors, even critical ones, the operation was not presented before the Security Cabinet, which did not ask the necessary questions," Ben-Eliezer said. According to the minister, had there been a cabinet debate "things would have turned out differently."
During a cultural event in Bat Yam Ben-Eliezer said that there were additional failures in respect to the affair and offered ways of handling future flotillas.
"One needs to start thinking in terms of 'We don't have a PR layout.'" The minister explained that in his opinion the State needs to start working around the clock to explain to the world that Israel has a right to defend itself. "We need to come to terms with the fact that ships are reaching Gaza from all directions and will carry weapons on them, whether we like it or not."
Suggesting ways of avoiding deadly outcomes in the future the minister said, "The way in which ships should be stopped should carry different considerations while limiting as much as possible the contact between the soldiers and the vessels. Regarding the last flotilla, the gap between nine casualties and 190 casualties was very small."
Relations with Turkey
Ben-Eliezer also commented on his relations with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and said, "Something changed in him."
He spoke of the commercial ties between Jerusalem and Ankara and noted, "There are hundreds of Israeli companies operating in Turkey and the Turks are making efforts to avoid breaking the commercial ties between the countries. We have no reason to apologize to them or regret anything, since everything was done in accordance with the law."
Referring to the situation in the Gaza Strip the minister said, "There is no humanitarian issue in Gaza. We are the ones under siege. Tthere is leadership in Gaza that doesn’t rest each day before saying eight times that Israel must be annihilated. What Hamas holds in Gaza now is three times what they had on the eve of Operation Cast Lead. Our job is to ensure that no rockets will be fired on Bat Yam, Holon and Sderot."
Importance of political process
Ben-Eliezer also commented in the political process and said he does not rule out a possibility of quitting the government. "If we don’t enter a political process, we will be the ones isolated – not Gaza. I would have nothing to do in this government if it doesn't enter into a poltical process. I expect it to be resumed within several weeks."
He noted that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is supportive of the resumption of negotiations.
Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov also spoke during the Bat Yam event and slammed Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan. "Turkey is not an enemy state, the Turkish people are not the enemy, but they are currently being led by an enemy of Israel."
The minister also addressed the Gaza blockade and said that "voices being heard in the cabinet that urge lifting the siege are bizarre. As long as Hamas' terrorist regime continues to exist and as long as Gilad Shalit contiunes to rot in jail there is no room for a change of Israeli policy.