Ousted Israeli defence minister Moshe Ya’alon is to stand for prime minister, the former Likud politician said today.

Ya’alon – who resigned from Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet last month – said he intends to run for the Israeli premiership at the next general election.

In a wide-ranging speech in Tel Aviv, Ya’alon launched a blistering attack on the current Prime Minister – and accused his government of “terrifying its citizens [and] trying to give them a feeling that we are on the brink of a second Holocaust”.

Maintaining that there is “no existential threat facing Israel, he said: “It is my intention to run for the leadership in the next elections.

“It is intolerable that Israel’s leadership in 2016 tries to incite Jews against Arabs, right against left, and between different tribes, all in order to survive in the government.”

It is unclear whether Ya’alon intends to establish a new political party in an already crowded electoral field in order to make good on his promise to run for election.

His uncompromising challenge to the policies of the current government invited the derision of former colleagues at Likud.

The party said in a statement: “It’s amusing to watch how quickly Ya’alon changes his spots. Just a few months ago he said: ‘Iran is an existential concern for Israel.’

“Today at the Herzliya Conference, when he became a politician, he said there are no existential concerns for Israel.”