Middle East

Ex-Israeli defense chief: Netanyahu scaring the public

FILE - In this Monday, Feb. 16, 2015 file photo, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, speaks with Israel's Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon during a ceremony for new Israeli Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem. Israel's newly resigned defense minister has accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of exaggerating the country's security threats to distract attention from other issues. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner, File)

FILE - In this Monday, Feb. 16, 2015 file photo, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, speaks with Israel's Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon during a ceremony for new Israeli Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem. Israel's newly resigned defense minister has accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of exaggerating the country's security threats to distract attention from other issues. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner, File)  (The Associated Press)

Israel's newly resigned defense minister has accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of exaggerating the country's security threats to distract attention from other issues.

In his first major address since he was forced to step down last month, Moshe Yaalon said on Thursday that he plans on challenging Netanyahu in the country's next election.

Yaalon told a security conference that Israel is the strongest country in the Middle East and neither Iran nor anti-Israel militant groups present existential threats to Israel.

The former defense minister says it's "expected of the leadership to stop scaring the citizens of Israel and giving them the sense that we are on the brink of a second Holocaust."

Instead, he says he considers the biggest threat to Israel to be "cracks in Israeli society."