Trust Issues with Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent tweet sparked controversy and disarray within the Israeli political establishment. In the tweet, Netanyahu claimed he had not been informed about warnings regarding Hamas’s operation on Israel on October 7. Instead, he seemed to shift blame onto his army and intelligence chiefs, who had assessed that Hamas was “deterred and ready for a settlement” before the attack.

This statement drew sharp criticism from political leaders, who accused Netanyahu of playing politics during a critical time. The outrage was significant enough for the prime minister to delete the tweet and issue a rare public apology, admitting he was wrong.

Experts point out that this incident highlights a growing divide within both the political and military spheres, with many questioning Netanyahu’s leadership and ability to prioritize national security over personal interests. Yossi Mekelberg from Chatham House emphasized that trust in Netanyahu is lacking among members of the government, particularly during such a challenging military campaign.

Following October 7, Netanyahu expanded the Israeli governing coalition to include several former senior military officers, including former defense minister Benny Gantz. Gantz promptly called for Netanyahu to retract his controversial statement while expressing full support for the army and domestic intelligence agency, Shin Bet.

Various leaders, including opposition lawmaker Avigdor Lieberman, criticized Netanyahu, asserting that he prioritizes politics over security and hostages. The Israel Defense Forces’ spokesperson, Daniel Hagari, declined to comment, stating, “We are at war.”

This incident is indicative of broader tensions within Israel’s political establishment, particularly within the war cabinet, as the country grapples with a significant intelligence failure. Many within the security apparatus have acknowledged shortcomings, but Netanyahu has not taken responsibility. He suggested that hard questions, including his own role, will need to be addressed once the war concludes.

The strained relationship between Netanyahu and a considerable portion of Israel’s public opinion has further deteriorated due to the war coinciding with a political crisis. Netanyahu’s government pursued controversial judicial reforms, leading to widespread protests and accusations of a threat to democracy. Critics argue that these protests have even impacted the military’s readiness and capabilities.