Former top Israeli security officials call on Netanyahu to resign

(CNN) — More than 40 former senior Israeli national security officials, renowned scientists and prominent business leaders sent a letter to the President of Israel and the Speaker of Parliament demanding that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu be removed from office for raising their issue , he says it is “existentialist”. “A threat to the country.

Signatories to the letter include four former directors of Israel’s foreign and internal security services, two former heads of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and three Nobel laureates.

The letter attacks the coalition Netanyahu created to form the most right-wing government in Israel’s history, as well as his controversial efforts to reform the Israeli judicial system, which the signatories say is vulnerable to security failures. Due to the attacks on 7 October. The deadliest day in Israel’s history.

“We believe that Netanyahu is primarily responsible for creating the conditions that led to the brutal massacre of more than 1,200 Israelis and others, the injury of more than 4,500 people and the abduction of more than 230 people, including More than 130 people remain captive by Hamas,” the statement said. “The blood of the victims is on Netanyahu’s hands.”

The letter was sent to Israeli President Isaac Herzog on Thursday and to Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana on Friday.

Netanyahu’s popularity has declined sharply since he began his sixth term as prime minister just over a year ago. Critics have hit out at his judicial reform efforts, which threaten to trigger a constitutional crisis and divide the country, sparking regular mass demonstrations for months.

“The leaders of Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas openly praised the process under Netanyahu’s leadership that destabilized and undermined Israel’s stability and took the opportunity to harm Israel’s security,” the letter said. “

The 43 signatories include former IDF chiefs Moshe Ya’alon and Dan Halutz, Tamir Pardo and Danny Yatom, who headed the Mossad intelligence agency, and Nadav Argaman and Yaakov Perry, who was the director of the Shin Beth, the internal security service.

Signers of the letter also included former CEOs, ambassadors, government officials, and three Nobel laureates in chemistry: Aaron Ciechanover, Avraham Hershko and Dan Schechtman.

A poll published this week by Israel’s Channel 13 shows that if elections were held today, Netanyahu’s political party Likud would come in second place. The preferred party in the survey is the National Unity Party, led by former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, who is currently a member of Netanyahu’s war cabinet.

The next elections are not scheduled until the end of 2026, although there have been protests and calls for early elections, including from Yair Lapid, one of the main Israeli opposition leaders.

Haim Tomer, a former Mossad official who retired after leading the agency’s intelligence division and signed the letter calling for Netanyahu’s removal, said, “The conditions that caused Israel to face elections in the first place are the same. are almost nothing compared to what Israel is experiencing now.”

“Everyone understands that Netanyahu is incapable of leading Israel,” Tomer told CNN.

In the past week, Netanyahu has repeatedly expressed his opposition to Palestinian sovereignty on security grounds, while Israel’s main ally, the United States, has continued to call for a two-state solution.

Signers of the letter accuse Netanyahu of spending years supporting Hamas in Gaza at the expense of the Palestinian Autonomous Government, which the United States says needs to be revived to rule both the West Bank and Gaza. Needed

CNN previously reported that Qatar delivered suitcases full of cash to Gaza for years with Netanyahu’s blessing, despite its government’s concerns. This money was used to pay the salaries of civil servants and the benefits of retirees. It is now distributed through bank transfers rather than cash, and last month Qatar said it was still paying for it.

To form his current government, Netanyahu brought together other far-right parties from Likud and formed the most right-wing government in Israeli history. Two of its most prominent members, Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben Gvir, have been handpicked by the Biden administration to argue that Palestinians should leave Gaza.

The letter accuses Netanyahu of refusing to take responsibility for the October 7 attacks and instead “blaming others and inciting against those who fought to protect Israeli democracy from his destructive actions and plans , and are now mobilizing wholeheartedly to support Israel’s national war effort.” ,

It concludes with an appeal to the Israeli President and the Speaker of the Knesset to replace the Prime Minister, as well as a warning: “The Israeli nation and Jewish history will not forgive you if you do not fulfill your highest national responsibility.”

Neither the President nor the Speaker has the power to unilaterally dismiss a prime minister, but the letter also had to be distributed by the Speaker to Knesset members who can do so.

The right people “need to play their hand,” said Tomar, the former Mossad officer.

“I think people are starting to look at Israel from the outside and wonder what has happened to this country,” Tomer said. “What has happened to this country of very intelligent people, which is now run by idiots?”

“The term we’re using in the circles I’m involved in is: We need a reset, we need a reset.”

Israel has faced intense international criticism over its war in Gaza, which has killed more than 25,000 Palestinians and displaced nearly two million people since Hamas attacks on October 7.

Israel has repeatedly stressed that its war is not against the Palestinian people, but against Hamas militants, who are holding more than 130 hostages in appalling conditions in the war zone.

Netanyahu told a news conference last week that politicians calling on him to resign were essentially demanding a Palestinian state.

Worse than a nightmare: Displaced Palestinian tells of his life in war

Israel’s actions in Gaza are the subject of a genocide case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) brought by South Africa, which accuses the country’s leaders of “causing the destruction of the Palestinian population”.

Israel denies the allegations, claiming that the war is being fought in self-defense and that its leaders have shown no genocidal intent.

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