In a message that appears to be designed for the ears of the Trump administration, Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett, addressing the INSS [Institute for National Security Studies] annual policy conference in Tel Aviv, called for abandoning the two-state solution and coined it a “failed idea of yesterday, not the future.” Earlier this week, Bennet backed down – temporarily – from promoting a bill that would apply Israeli sovereignty over the west bank city of Ma’ale Adumim. He did so following pressure from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who hopes to avoid embarrassing President Trump during his first days in office. But today, he doubled down on his opposition to Palestinian statehood, addressing an audience of both Israeli and American policymakers in English and referring to one of Trump’s well-known catchphrases. “In my previous life, I was a hi-tech CEO. If one the managers in my company came to me and said: ‘Listen, I tried a program. It failed. But you know what? I tried the exact same program again. And it failed again. And I even tried it again a third time. Yup, it failed again. I’d say to him: You’re fired.’”
The hot topic at INSS wasn’t the peace process or moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, but the explosive state comptroller’s report on Operation Protective Edge, slated to be published in the coming weeks. The events of the July 2014 Gaza war are the subject of an ongoing political quarrel between Netanyahu, Bennett, and Yesh Atid party head Yair Lapid. Bennett and Lapid, both of whom served in the government at the time, blame Netanyahu his former defense minister, Moshe Ya’alon, and the leadership of the IDF for failing to prepare the country for the threat of Hamas tunnels under Gaza and into Israel. A source told Kafe Knesset that the report will likely adopt Bennett and Lapid’s version of events.
This morning, Yedioth Ahronoth published transcripts from some of the security cabinet deliberations at the time of the incursion, putting the matter high on INSS conferences agenda. The transcripts expose infighting between Bennett and Ya’alon during the war, which continued at INSS. After Bennett referred to the Watchdog report as a “security earthquake,” Ya’alon took the stage to defend the security establishment’s conduct. “We defined our objectives and achieved them. Hamas has been weakened and deterred, and the south has been quiet for the last two and a half years, this is an example of leadership,” Ya’alon said. “Leadership doesn’t do politics during a military consultation, Once again this morning I see politicians who have no red line, who leak from cabinet meeting during the operation and after wise for a few more Likes on Facebook and twitter,” a thinly-veiled reference to Bennett. Lapid, who gave an address a few hours later, focused his attacks on Netanyahu. “What we saw in the cabinet during protective edge cannot return. We saw a Prime Minister who preferred to play with politics and to dive into endless tactical discussions instead of making decisions.”
Netanyahu has yet to react to the reported allegations in the comptroller’s report. But its findings are likely to add to the existing political pressure on him in addition to the ongoing criminal investigations he faces. Israeli Channel 10 revealed last night that the police are currently probing two more affairs, named “case 3000” and “case 4000.” Case 3000 reportedly involves the Submarine affair, and no details have been published about the subject of the 4000 file. Netanyahu is slated to be interrogated for the third time this week. Thus far, opinion polls show that the affairs have not impacted political support amongst his base.
Spotted at the INSS conference: David Petraeus, Martin Indyk, Philip Gordon, Michelle Flournoy, Jane Harman, Abe Foxman, Robert Danin, Yossi Vardi, David Ignatius, Itamar Rabinovich, Tzipi Livni, Barak Ravid, Shimon Shiffer, Amos Harel, AIPACs Cameron Brown, and TIP’s Lior Weintraub