Ilana Dayan: Netanyahu-military rift could be a 'game-changer'

The Axe Files, featuring David Axelrod, is a podcast distributed by CNN and produced at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics. The author works at the institute.

Chicago (CNN)The open rift between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the military could be a "game-changer," upsetting Israel's fragile balance of power, says one of the nation's leading broadcast journalists.

Ilana Dayan, anchor of the investigative news program "Uvda" ("Fact") on Israel's Channel 2, said the resignation of Moshe Ya'alon as defense minister and the appointment in his place of Avigdor Lieberman, an outspoken and controversial leader of the right, could prompt Ya'alon to emerge as leader of a new, anti-Netanyahu coalition. Were Ya'alon, who announced his resignation Friday, to join forces with Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, the two could pose a real threat to their former ally Netanyahu, Dayan said.
"If they unite together and they create a right of center (movement)... which caters to the taste of many Israelis who would otherwise vote for Netanyahu, that could be a game changer," Dayan told David Axelrod on "The Axe Files," a podcast produced by CNN and the University of Chicago Institute of Politics.
    Ya'alon resigned amid a growing rift with Netanyahu that came to a head after the controversial slaying of a wounded Palestinian assailant by an I.D.F. soldier. Ya'alon objected to Netanyahu's statement of support for the soldier, who Ya'alon and military leaders said had violated the army's values and its code of conduct.
    "(Ya'alon) knows so much and he has so much material and he has been privy to so many silent and secret and closed discussions, that if I were Netanyahu, I would be on the alert," Dayan said.
    However, Dayan noted that Netanyahu is getting "better and better as a politician and as a campaigner" and "beats expectations time and again."
    In the hour-long conversation with Axelrod, taped last week at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics, where Dayan is a visiting Fellow, she said that a two-state solution with Palestine will happen someday, but likely not while Netanyahu is in office.
    "I think he doesn't believe he can be that leader. I think he doesn't really believe there can be a historic compromise," she said. "He thinks it's too much of a risk."
    Netanyahu, she said, "sees reality almost always from the worst-case scenario point of view. It's a very Jewish way of looking at things. And I would want our leaders -- my countrymen -- to get rid of this view of the world... If you look at us and the Palestinians, it's really a contest of victimhood. We both feel like victims."
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington in 2015
    But, Dayan said, "at the end of the day, which is long ... and sad and gloomy ... there will be a historic compromise."
    To hear the whole conversation with Dayan, which also touched on her views of Donald Trump, U.S.-Israeli relations, and more, click on http://podcast.cnn.com. To get "The Axe Files" podcast every week, subscribe at http://itunes.com/theaxefiles.