Ehud Barak Accuses Israel's Vice PM of Succumbing to Right-wing Rhetoric

Accusation follows criticism by Moshe Ya'alon, Moshe Katz that the Defense Minister is acting out of personal political interests with regards to settlements.

Aides to Defense Minister Ehud Barak released a statement Saturday evening accusing two ministers of succumbing to extreme right-wing rhetoric. The statement came in light of accusations that Barak was supporting settlement evacuations out of personal political interests and in contradiction to the interests of the Netanyahu coalition.

In the statement, the aides accused Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon and Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz of being influenced by the fear of right-winger Moshe Feiglin.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak

"Katz and Ya'alon have fallen ill with 'serious Feiglinism'," said the press statement. "'Feiglinism' is not good for the state, its security, its future and for the public at large," continued the statement, adding that "We hope, for the sake of the public and its representatives in the Knesset, that Feiglinism is not an infectious phenomenon."

Earlier Saturday, Ya'alon had criticized Barak over his move to evacuate settlers from a house in a Palestinian neighborhood of Hebron earlier this month. Ya'alon, who is also Strategic Affairs Minister, said that in his opinion the government could have removed the settlers through discussions, rather than by forceful evacuation. "They were prepared to evacuate. There was no need to send in the counterterrorism unit of the police. The defense minister insisted on sending them in, and afterward we heard his people saying, 'Now the left camp will understand who its leader is'," said Ya'alon.

Ya'alon went on to say that the defense minister's actions are motivated by political considerations, adding that a survey published following the Hebron evacuation showed the Independence Party of which Barak is chairman was crossing the elections threshold. "He has a different political agenda to that of the government," said Ya'alon, adding that "Unfortunately, he is responsible for settlements in Yehuda and Shomron."

The vice prime minister's comment came during a meeting over the evacuation of settlers from Ulpana neighborhood in the West Bank settlement of Beit El, which is supposed to take place on May 1 according to a High Court order.

On Friday, on a visit to Ulpana, Katz expressed support for the settlers and criticized the defense minister. "If Barak acts against the government's stance, the prime minister will have an obligation to fire him," said the transportation minister, adding, "He took the Defense Ministry and turned it into a political tool at the expense of the settlers. There are other means of gathering votes."

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked the State Prosecutor’s Office to examine whether a request can be lodged with the High Court to further delay the evacuation order.

The Ulpana neighborhood is comprised of multi-story buildings housing dozens of families.

Read this article in Hebrew.