“If there is no agreement by the end of the year, Israel should attack Iran,” said one of the most influential figures in Netanyahu’s new government back in October.
By Tamir Morag, TPS
Tzachi Hanegbi’s career seemed to be over just a few months ago, after he failed to be elected by Likud members as one the party’s Knesset members. Yet in a surprising turn of events, Hanegbi is about to become one of the most influential figures in Netanyahu’s new government, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointed him to the position of National Security Adviser and head of the National Security Council (NSC).
Hanegbi — a veteran politician who has previously served as Chairman of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and as a member of Israel’s Security Cabinet — is considered a close political ally of Netanyahu. In recent weeks, prior to his appointment, Hanegbi made numerous appearances as a commentator in Israeli media, promoting an aggressive approach towards Iran and its nuclear program.
“If there is no agreement by the end of the year, Israel should attack Iran,” Hanegbi said in October.
One month later, Hanegbi said, “I assume that Netanyahu will carry out an attack in Iran.”
In a phone call with the Tazpit Press Service, Brigadier General (ret.) Amir Avivi, Chairman of Israel’s Defense and Security Forum explained the significance of Hanegbi’s appointment.
“The NSC coordinates all aspects of national security for the Prime Minister, with an emphasis on the IDF, Mossad and Shin Bet [Israel’s internal security service], but also broader issues like energy independence, civil readiness for war, etc. In recent years it, became very influential,” Avivi said.
“Hanegbi’s appointment is different, because unlike his predecessors he is not a general or a senior figure in the security establishment of Israel, rather a very experienced politician with close ties to Netanyahu, who served many years in the government and Knesset,” Avivi added. ” The fact that he is not a former general can instill fresh thinking into the system, and in some aspects can be regarded as an advantage.”
Many political commentators in Israel believe that the new government’s policy on foreign and security issues will be not be led by the traditional trio of the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and Defense Minister, rather by an alternative trio comprised of Netanyahu, Hanegbi and Ron Dermer, the new Minister of Strategic Affairs, who is considered to be the closest person to Netanyahu. If that is the case, Hanegbi will have a crucial influence.
“The most important element is full trust between the National Security Adviser and the Prime Minister”, said General (ret.) Yaakov Amidror, former National Security Adviser in a phone call with TPS.
According to Amidror, Hanegbi “should be able to conduct an honest discussion with the Prime Minister and tell him when he is wrong. Hanegbi has these qualities and also the experience as a former cabinet minister and Chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee of the Knesset.”
Said Amidror, “He also has a good understanding of politics, which was naturally somewhat lacking among his predecessors. On the other hand, he will have to build trust with the security establishment. Overall, he has the required qualities for this crucial position and I think that he is ready for the task and it’s a good appointment by Netanyahu.”
Brig.- Gen. (ret.) Prof. Yaakov Nagel, who served as interim National Security Adviser under Netanyahu, told TPS, “Hanegbi was also an envoy on behalf of the new Prime Minister on several occasions, and he is an excellent pick. I am convinced that he will know how to separate between politics and his current professional position.”
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