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Analyst: Breakdown in Trust Could Lead to Coup in Israel

An Israeli analyst has suggested that deteriorating relations between Israel’s political and military echelons could lead to the unthinkable: Israel’s first military coup.

In an interview with the Israeli daily Ha’aretz, Ze’ev Maoz, head of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies in Tel Aviv, said there has been an unprecedented breakdown of faith between the two groups, adding that it is not out of the question that a coup could take place in the event of an international crisis.

“I think the possibility of a coup is very remote, but since the assassination of [Yitzhak Rabin], I don’t think anything is impossible in Israeli politics,” he told Israel Radio.

“If we enter a situation of an international crisis in this atmosphere of lack of trust between the military and political echelons, there are good reasons for worry,” he told Ha’aretz.

“The army does not have the option of playing politics to change the situation, so the likelihood of a coup becomes a more attractive option,” he added.

Maoz said the breakdown in relations had resulted from a sense among government officials that top members of the military were biased against them.

“The politicians currently in power suspect the military advisers to be biased towards the previous government, because they were appointed by the previous government, they took part in the negotiations with the Palestinians and Syrians” under that government, Maoz said.

Maoz added that those members of the current government who come from military backgrounds, such as Infrastructure Minister Ariel Sharon and Public Security Minister Avigdor Kahalani, are out of the decision-making loop.

The clearest indications of friction with the military emerged after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided last month to open a new entrance to an ancient tunnel near the Temple Mount without adequately consulting military and security officials.

The move sparked three days of violence in late September that left 15 Israelis and 61 Palestinians dead.

Maoz said the military echelon was resentful over not being consulted, adding that it was up to the political echelon “to clear the atmosphere.”

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