Vice PM: Barak Favored His Political Interests Over Israel's Welfare

Moshe Ya'alon condemns the defense minister for making statements to U.S. officials on Iran without Netanyahu's consent, accuses him of deceiving the PM regarding his intentions for Israeli strike.

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Barak Ravid
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Barak Ravid

Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon on Saturday harshly condemned Defense Minister Ehud Barak and accused him of favoring his political interests over that of Israel's, when he secretly spoke to U.S. officials on Iran.

Earlier this month, it was reported that Netanyahu accused Barak of attempting to damage relations between him and the Obama administration when he held meetings with U.S. officials and reportedly said statements without Netanyahu's consent.

Ya'alon claimed that Barak deceived Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarding his intentions for a possible Israeli strike on Iran.

"The prime minister believed that the defense minister was with him on the Iranian issue," he said. "In the end, the defense minister hoisted Israel onto the tree, fled at the last minute, and then went on to present himself as a moderate."

"The defense minister favored his political interests over national interests," Ya'alon said.

Ya'alon noted that Barak presented himself to Obama administration officials as a moderating agent that is willing to compromise, which won him points in the U.S. and affected public opinion in Israel.

"This was unacceptable behavior," Ya'alon said.

Ties between Ya'alon and Barak have been tense in the past three years due to several political spats that ensued between them. However the impending elections have heightened this tension, causing Ya'alon to launch an unprecedented attack on Barak.

Ya'alon also said Saturday that the military option on Iran must be the last resort, and expressed hope that the European Union will adopt additional economic sanctions against Tehran.

"Iran's nuclear program could be stopped without military force," he said. "In order to do this, the Iranians must be brought to the point where they face a dilemma: to continue with the nuclear program or survive. The Iranian regime is in a hopeless situation economically but without a viable military option it won't be effective."

Last week, Netanyahu met Barak in order to reprimand him over the "uncoordinated" meetings he held with U.S. officials.

It was reported that Netanyahu asked Barak to explain his uncoordinated meetings with officials from the Obama administration, in which he apparently said statements without the prime minister's consent.

However, Israeli lawmakers stipulate that the so-called "Netanyahu-Barak crisis" was a political spin, manufactured to improve Barak's stand in the eyes of the public in order to enhance the strength of their parties, Likud and Atzmaut, in the joint post-election coalition.

Barak responded on Saturday to the accusations and said that Ya'alon "and Tzipi Livni have contracted a disease called primaritis, an illness that attacks Likud members ahead of the primaries," labeling the vice prime minister's remarks as "pathetic."

"I acted and continue to act so that we will have a realistic operational plan against the Iranian threat," Barak said during an interview with Channel 2's Meet the Press, highlighting Netanyahu and him fully agree on the Iranian issue. "There was one difference [between us], and it was also made public, I thought that the triggers that would bring action should be discussed in closed chambers. The only beneficiaries from the debate in the media are the Iranians, he added.

Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon leads a task force to draft new enlistment legislationCredit: Tomer Appelbaum

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