The next IDF chief of staff, Maj. Gen. Moshe (Bugi) Yaalon, criticized the Foreign Ministry, claiming: “The Foreign Ministry acts contrary to government decisions.”

Recently, Yaalon told IDF officers that the Foreign Ministry was acting against government decisions, since the government had determined that Arafat was irrelevant, and despite that, the ministry continues, in its activities throughout the world, to treat him as the legitimate chairman of the Palestinian Authority. A few days ago, Minister Peres instructed members of the Foreign Ministry to criticize terror, but not Arafat himself.

This is not the first time that Yaalon has criticized the Foreign Ministry and its head, Shimon Peres. About a year ago severe criticism against Peres was quoted in the name of “senior IDF officers,” following which the two held a meeting of reconciliation.

Other generals in the General Staff joined in the criticism and claimed recently: “The IDF is acting according to government decisions and presenting Arafat as a terrorist, while the Foreign Ministry is doing exactly the opposite. The result is that the State of Israel is speaking in two different voices, and Israeli public relations have been badly harmed.” Recently, the IDF upper echelons criticized the Foreign Ministry’s consent to the UN fact-finding team into events in the Jenin refugee camp, which for now has been cancelled. Senior military sources said that Peres “treated the subject of the fact-finding team with the greatest neglect and could have brought terrible trouble on the IDF.”

Foreign Ministry sources expressed amazement last night at the fact that the deputy chief of staff believes that his job is to manage Israel’s diplomatic establishment. “He has enough to do in the military, and it is better that he concentrate on that. If the chief of staff or his deputy have any complaints, better that they raise them at the accepted forums and not resort to mudslinging in the media,” the sources said. [… ]

A senior official in the Foreign Ministry added: “It is a shame that Bugi Yaalon is starting his career on the wrong foot and sticking his nose into political matters.”

This article ran in Yedioth Ahronoth on May 14, 2002