Netanyahu betrayed Israeli Army: Opposition
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Last Updated: Tuesday, August 10, 2010, 11:52
Jerusalem: Israel's opposition party Kadima has accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of betraying the defence forces by turning them into a "punching bag" in his testimony to an inquiry commission looking into the May 31 deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla.

"Netanyahu's testimony before the Turkel Commission proves, once again, that there is no leadership," Kadima said in a press release.

"At the moment of truth, he put the blame on others and made the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) into a punching-bag," the statement said.

When asked by former Supreme Court Justice Jacob Turkel, who is heading the five member panel, whether it was the IDF which decided the means by which to halt the flotilla, Netanyahu said, "Yes, that's standard procedure."

He also said it is the role of politicians "to determine policy" while "it is up to the military to execute it."

"The IDF had always decided on the ways in which to enforce the blockade [on Gaza] and has done its job well," the Israeli leader said, adding that this was the "division of labour".

When asked by the Commission how the decision on military action was received, Netanyahu said that that all of those involved "felt that the raid was a last resort, and the instructions were to conduct it with as little friction as possible."

"The IDF had looked into several options, as per my instructions, but also according to the instructions of the defence minister and the chief of staff."

Israeli naval commandos had stormed six aid ships trying to bring supplies to Gaza, killing nine Turkish activists and wounding several others on May 31.

Meanwhile, opposition leader Tzipi Livni has sent a letter to Turkel asking to testify before the investigation commission.

Livni explained that one of the Commission's goals is to determine the legality of Israel's blockade on Gaza, which was imposed in 2007 by the previous administration, of which she was an integral part as the foreign minister.

The opposition Kadima leader said that the portion of the Prime Minister's testimony that was made public "didn't communicate, or didn't correctly portray, the political and security considerations behind the decision to impose the blockade, and the need for it, as they were weighed by those responsible for imposing it ? me included."

Bureau Report

First Published: Tuesday, August 10, 2010, 11:52

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