Gabbay, Livni slam Netanyahu on loss of deterrence
Zionist Union leaders attack prime minister on his handling of security situation, rockets launched at Israel from Gaza; 'Israeli citizens are being targeted and he's nowhere to be found. He doesn't want to be associated with failure,' says Gabbay; 'Deterrence has expired,' states Livni.
Zionist Union Chairman Avi Gabbay attacked Monday Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's conduct in regards to the continued steam of rockets launched at Israel from the Gaza Strip. "The prime minister is weak opposite Hamas. Our citizens have been targeted for two weeks and he's nowhere to be found," Gabbay said.
"He doesn't want to associated with the failure. When he was asked in the Knesset about the situation in the south last week, he said 'Next.' That's what he told hundreds of thousands of citizens under fire. Not only does he not say anything about it, he doesn't even empathize with the residents. When Hamas sees the prime minister saying nothing, what message does that send?" Gabbay slammed Netanyahu.
"And it's not like the prime minister doesn't have the time. Yesterday we heard him speak at length about bitcoin. But he doesn't have the time to speak about hundreds of thousands of Israeli civilians under fire. On the topic of life itself, as he said, he found no time to talk. Anyone saying 'Next' to Israeli citizens will hear the same thing from them in the next elections," Gabbay opined.
Moving on to Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Gabbay said: "We cannot consent to a situation in which families are in shelters and under attack, and what does the state of Israel do? The defense minister turns into a military analyst and explains it's an intra-Palestinian struggle between factions. When we replace this government, it's my guarantee the next minister of defense will be the professional most suited to the job."
Gabbay's Zionist Union compatriot and leader of Hatnua party, Tzipi Livni, also commented on the security situation and the threat posed by Hamas. "No one—not even the biggest, most boisterous talkers—has a magical solution in their pocket. The solution is more complex than merely letting the IDF take care of it. A military operation may be necessary, but it won't be sufficient," she said in a Ynet studio interview.
"A military operation attains deterrence and a terrorist organization (such as Hamas) has to be hit from time to time, but there are other things you have to do at the same time. You have to finish work on the subterranean barrier when it comes to terror tunnels. And you have to employ Egyptian involvement. You can recruit the entire world against Hamas," Livni said.
You spoke about hitting Hamas hard. Don't you think Hamas is being hit hard enough already?
"What matters is the end result. I'm going down south tomorrow, where the people of Israel are paying a daily price and therefore, factually, actions undertaken right now are not working."
Has Israel lost its deterrence?
"Yes. Factually speaking, of course. Every military operation achieves deterrence for a set period of time, and that deterrence has now expired. If it was still in place, we wouldn't be getting hit right now."
If the prime minister and minister of defense decided to embark on a Gaza military operation, would you and your party members say Netanyahu was skirting responsibility and that it was merely a spin?
"No. And they can't initiate something like that. There's the IDF and its chief of staff, and I don't see a scenario in which the prime minister and defense minister force them to start a military operation because they feel like it.
"The current round of escalation allegedly stemmed from President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital and his intentions of moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
"I welcome the proclamation, it's good for Israel. But the day after that proclamation—whether the peace process advanced or not—depends on the leadership of Netanyahu and (Palestinian Authority President) Mahmoud Abbas, and they're both doing the same thing. They ignored the bit in Trump's speech about borders needing to be agreed upon in negotiations. The right wing embraces it with gusto, as if it gives them free reign to do whatever they want, and Abbas is doing the same," Livni analyzed.
On the numerous investigation into Prime Minister Netanyahu's affairs and the public outcry against corruption they partly inspired, Livni said, "I've been a minister in Israel's government for many years, and to receive envelopes or gifts is unheard of, not to mention living off of others."
Does Netanyahu live off of others?
How can you tell?
"He admitted as much himself. He said, 'I received (gifts), but they're my friends.' Saying they're his friends is an argument for the defense, it's not fact. Israel has laws. A minister or prime minister cannot receive gifts." From anyone.
A Facebook campaign has been making the rounds recently accusing you of corruption over the fact you supposedly left massive debts at the Kadima party (Livni's former party before partnering with the Labor Party to create the Zionist Union—ed)
"The fact that Netanyahu is operating a lot of Facebook trolls shows me he must be scared. I'm willing to tackle any accusation. I've never taken anything for myself. I lost the Kadima primaries, and there were unfortunately some debts to municipal authorities from the time (former prime minister Ehud) Olmert was leading the party. The fact that Netanyahu is screaming that everyone is corrupt doesn't make it so."