New York – An Israeli telephone poll of a representative sample of 500 adult Israelis (including Arab Israelis) carried out by Dahaf for the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot has found that 76% of Israelis disagreed with the proposition Is the appointment of Amir Peretz as minister of defense a correct move? Only 21% favored Peretzs appointment. Peretz was appointed by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, replacing former Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff, Lt.-Gen. Shaul Mofaz, who publicly expressed regret at not being retained as Defense Minister.
Veteran correspondent Uri Dan wrote of Peretzs appointment:
The leaders of the Labor Party will be making a major contribution to Israels future if they manage to convince Amir Peretz at the last minute not to accept the defense portfolio … What is much more serious is that Israels national security interests will be damaged as a result of Peretzs appointment. He has no experience, no conception and no skills that qualify him to stand at the head of the huge and complex security establishment that safeguards our lives. Peretzs very willingness to take on this job proves that he understands nothing about it. The silence of the lambs of the other leaders of the Labor Party, those who have not gotten up to tell him You are not the man for this job, proves that the only thing that interests them is their share in the government, at any price …
And this is at a time when a bitter war is being waged against a Palestinian terror offensive that can only be expected to further escalate … Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told me: Since the beginning of the year, the Palestinian terror effort has been on an upsurge. We have thwarted 88 attempts by suicide terrorists so far this year, in other words, an average of about one per day. In 2005, we stopped about 4,000 terrorists …
The appointment of Amir Peretz as defense minister, when he has no real experience in this area, proves that he and his colleagues have learned nothing from Israels blood-drenched history, much of which was due to the criminal negligence of leaders who fell asleep on the job. Only someone who believes that Israel will soon become another Switzerland or Holland can afford to relate to the appointment of Amir Peretz as defense minister with equanimity. Only an Israeli media filled with ignoramuses or sycophants could welcome the parachuting of a political-social demagogue into the inner sanctum of Israels national security. Only someone who is intellectually blind does not understand that appointing Peretz as defense minister could contribute to Israel being surprised with a war, as has happened in the past…
Dont place our national security – that is, our lives, in fact the very future of the Jewish state – in his hands (Jerusalem Post , April 26).
Israel Insider staff and partners write of the appointment:
Can Israel afford to hand its nuclear briefcase to a man who spent much of his brief and unremarkable military service fixing tanks? The country is embroiled in a heated debate over whether Labor Party leader Amir Peretz – picked as Israels next defense minister – has the credentials for one of the nations most high-stress jobs, including dealing with an Iranian nuclear threat, possible anarchy in the Palestinian areas and the dismantling of Jewish settlements. Leading the critics Wednesday was Matan Vilnai, an ex-general in Peretz own party, who said: At the moment he (Peretz) doesnt have the skills for this job… He played a supporting role as an ordinance officer in a paratroopers brigade during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. In 1974, he was critically injured when a military vehicle rolled over on him, crushing his leg… Analysts say there is little time for on-the-job training, and Peretz will definitely have a steep learning curve. A newspaper caricature this week mockingly showed Mofaz handing the nuclear briefcase to a sweating, anxious Peretz and saying: Try to use this as little as possible (Israel Insider, April 28).
Peretzs own Labor Party colleague and war leader, Maj.-Gen. Matan Vilnai has also said of him:
Peretz knows less about the job of defense minister than any incumbent in Israels history (New York Times, April 28).