Israel’s former top soldier and defence minister Moshe Ya’alon has said he is forming a new political party to challenge Benjamin Netanyahu in the next election.

Ya’alon, a respected general, resigned in March last year after falling out with his boss over an Israeli soldier filmed shooting a seriously wounded Palestinian attacker in the head. Ya’alon had slated the soldier’s conduct, but Netanyahu argued for a pardon and called the soldiers’ parents in sympathy.

Since leaving the government, to be replaced by Avigdor Lieberman, Ya’alon has slammed Netanyahu for “scaring the citizens of Israel and giving them the sense that we are on the brink of a second Holocaust”.

This week he said he would run on a promise to prioritise threats to the rule of law, and to fight against corruption and the increasing polarisation in Israeli society, including “the dialogue of hatred against Arabs and Charedim”.

He announced his intention to run last year at the Herzliya Conference, where he said Netanyahu’s fear-mongering was “a cynical attempt to pull wool over the eyes of the public, because of the perception that if the public is scared, they will forget the everyday challenges they are facing”.

Ya’alon has since spoken out against the growing Left-Right divide in Israel, and between Arabs, Jews, Orthodox communities and religious nationalists. “The job of leadership is to bring together the people and not to tear it apart, incite and urge attacks,” he has said.

Ya’alon’s Ukrainian-born father David enlisted in the Jewish Brigade of the British Army in the Second World War, before serving in the embryonic Israel Defence Forces, which Ya’alon himself later led.