Does Israel Lack Strategic Thinking?

Thursday, January 21, 2016 |  Aviel Schneider

The Netanyahu government has been harshly criticized over its handling of the current security situation by not only the Opposition, but also by a growing number of Cabinet ministers.

In recent weeks, several voices from within the governing coalition have called into question Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s approach to the escalating wave of terrorism plaguing Israel.

Their concern is that Israel is demonstrating no clear strategy, and that is seen as a sign of weakness that only encourages more terror.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who is a Cabinet minister, summarized the criticism in a recent speech at the annual conference of Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies (INSS).

Bennett, who leads the right-wing Jewish Home party, accused Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon of “stagnated thinking,” which he called the “main threat to Israel.”

Israel’s leaders, insisted Bennett, need to start thinking “outside the box.”

The response from sources close to Netanyahu were swift and harsh. “At a time when the IDF, Israel Security Agency and the police are fighting terrorists everyday, it is expected of cabinet ministers that they be responsible and help with our common goal, rather than leak ideas discussed in the cabinet that they are a part of, and spout them as populist slogans,” said one source.

Netanyahu accused Bennett of behaving like a member of the Opposition, while Ya’alon, without mentioning Bennett by name, suggested his fellow Cabinet minister was acting childish. “Leadership is responsibility, not chasing after a few more ‘likes’ on Facebook,” said the defense minister.

But Bennett’s assessment that “instead of shaping our futures ourselves, Israel is being dragged along by the existing reality” may not be far off the mark. Against the Palestinian “lone wolf” terrorist Israel currently has no effective strategy, and senior military officials have admitted as much in recent weeks.

The question of whether or not Israel today lacks true strategic thinking has become a hot topic in the Israeli media.

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