Netanyahu’s pick for defense minister cautious on Iran

by
March 17, 2013

JERUSALEM | Although Benjamin Netanyahu’s next defense minister shares his deep distrust of the Palestinians, the two could yet clash about when – and whether – Israel should go to war with Iran.

Ex-general Moshe Yaalon is a loyalist of Netanyahu’s Likud party who, as a senior if sometimes sidelined member of the outgoing coalition government, routinely boosted the rightist prime minister and his strategic outlook.

But the hulking, bespectacled Yaalon, 62, also has a record of breaking ranks when he perceives unreasonable risks.

As military intelligence commander in the mid-1990s he disagreed with the left-leaning government’s optimism about fledgling peace talks with the Palestinians. Promoted to armed forces chief of staff, he saw his tenure cut short after he opposed Israel’s plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip in 2005.

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