The last time Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired his defense minister, it ended with an election and a defeat at the ballot box. It happened at the beginning of 1999, when relations between Netanyahu and his popular defense minister, Yitzhak Mordechai, collapsed following the Wye Plantation Summit (1998) and the thwarting of the agreement reached in its wake. Trust between the two eroded quickly, and Netanyahu heard rumors that Mordechai was holding secret contacts with his rivals Roni Milo (Likud), Dan Meridor (Likud) and Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, retiring Israel Defense Forces (IDF) chief of staff. After Mordechai was fired, Netanyahu’s fears were realized in full: Mordechai indeed joined the three rivals, created the Center Party and although he did not win, he was considered the decisive factor in Netanyahu’s defeat in the 1999 election.
On June 16 came another round in the perpetual war of attrition between Netanyahu and the military-security elite in Israel. It started with former Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon’s speech at the annual Herzliya Conference. Ya'alon did not spare the rod from Netanyahu, blaming him for scaring the public and an erosion of values and ethics in Israeli society. Ya'alon declared that he determined unequivocally that Israel does not face an existential threat, and that Netanyahu continues to terrify the Israeli public in order to divert the public discourse from the revelations of corruption, incitement and distress of the citizens.