Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon will not be leaving Likud despite threats and incitement against him, he stated to the press Tuesday evening.
"There are among us kippah-wearers [i.e. national-religious Jews – ed.], some not – but there certainly are many who have wished evil upon us," Ya'alon began. "We nevertheless will continue to lead the right way, by the direction of our compass, and not by where the wind blows us."
Ya’alon has been outspoken in his criticism of the soldier who recently shot a neutralized terrorist in Hevron, condemning the shooting just hours after the incident occurred. Last week, Ya’alon said the soldier had “transgressed” and “was not a hero”. He further accused supporters of the soldier of undermining the army’s moral standing.
His comments have resulted in criticism and even in threats against him, which Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) denounced on Saturday.
Security issues looking up
Ya'alon then confirmed that several security issues have improved: the current terror wave has indeed declined over the past months; Hamas is not involved in active terror against Israel; security cooperation with the US continues to be closer than ever; the multi-year IDF overhaul 'Gidon' plan is on schedule; and Iran continues to be Israel's #1 threat.
The Defense Minister also addressed, at length, Egypt's transfer of the Sanafir and Tiran islands to Saudi Arabia; both islands provide strategic access between Israel and Aqaba, and their control was transferred to Egypt as part of the 1982 Camp David Accords. Ya'alon emphasized that the transfer was done with Israel's knowledge and blessing.
"There are parts of the peace agreement with Egypt to which all parties are committed – and therefore Israel has agreed to this Egyptian initiative, the United States, which is the patron of the peace agreement, also approved it, and Egypt knows how to deal with this new reality," he said.
Among other revelations, Ya'alon also revealed that Israel has granted more work permits for Palestinian Arabs who wish to work in Israel recently – bringing the total number of permits issued close to 70,000.
"We work closely with the Palestinian Authority, and we have determined that the PA has worked tirelessly recently to stop terror," he stated, citing efforts by the PA security forces to confiscate weapons in PA schools. "While, at the beginning of the terror wave, the PA turned a blind eye, they have [now] used both uniformed and plainclothes police to prevent the populace from participating in major [anti-Israel] protests."