Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday fired Danon, a hawkish Likudnik who had been deputy defense minister, from his post after Danon slammed the Israeli Cabinet decision to endorse a proposed cease-fire with Hamas. Danon had called the decision a “slap in the face to all the residents of Israel.”
Netanyahu issued this statement about Danon’s firing:
At a time when the Government of Israel and the IDF are in the midst of a military campaign against the terrorist organizations and is taking determined action to maintain the security of Israel’s citizens, it cannot be that the Deputy Defense Minister will sharply attack the leadership of the country regarding the campaign… In light of his remarks, which express a lack of confidence in the government and in the prime minister personally, it was expected that the Deputy Defense Minister would take responsibility for his actions and resign. Since he has not done so, I have decided… to dismiss him from his post.
There are two ways to interpret Danon’s dismissal (he remains a Knesset member from Likud, Netanyahu’s party). One is that Netanyahu had had enough of Danon’s right-wing agitation, considered him out of line with the values of the Israeli Cabinet and wanted to enforce the rule of maintaining unity during wartime.
The other is that Netanyahu views Danon as a threat on his right flank, and took advantage of this opportunity to oust him from the Cabinet.
An unapologetic nationalist, Danon’s political ascent has been rapid. (Read my 2012 profile on Danon.) He is opposed to Palestinian statehood, wants to annex as much of the West Bank as possible and wants the remaining Palestinians to become part of Jordan. Those ideas have strong currency among the Likud rank-and-file.
After his firing, Danon issued a statement slamming Netanyahu:
The Prime Minister capitulated to [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] when he agreed to release murderers in return for negotiations, did not react strongly enough when our three teenagers were brutally murdered, and this morning he accepted a ceasefire with Hamas that weakens Israel. I could not accept the defeatist atmosphere that has become prevalent in our Cabinet, and I would not compromise my values for the sake of staying in office.