In Day-long Media Blitz, Ehud Barak Blasts Netanyahu for Botching U.S. Aid Deal

Aid deal prompts a scathing Washington Post op-ed by Barak and no less than seven interviews in three hours to Israeli media, slamming Netanyahu for getting far less than Israel could from U.S.

Ehud Barak speaking at the Herzlia Conference, June 16, 2016.
Ofer Vaknin

Former Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ehud Barak launched an all-out assault Thursday on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the military aid agreement signed with the Unites States. After publishing a scathing article in the Washington Post, in the evening Barak gave no less than seven interviews in three hours to the media in Israel, in which he argued that Netanyahu had signed a bad agreement that had done damage to Israel’s security.

In the Washington Post article, Barak said that Netanyahu had acted recklessly: "The damage produced by Netanyahu’s irresponsible management of the relations with the White House is now fully manifest. Israel will receive $3.8 billion a year — an important contribution to our security but far less than what could have been obtained before the prime minister chose to blatantly interfere with U.S. politics." 

About an hour after quotes from Barak’s article began to appear in the Israeli media, Likud released a response. “These are foolish statements written by the greatest failure as a prime minister in Israel’s history, who continues to ridiculously attempt a pathetic comeback only of his own making.”  The statement added that “publishing an article ridiculing Israel’s policy in the American media on the day the largest aid agreement in the history of the United States was signed is only more proof that what Barak cares about is not the good of the country and not Israel’s security, but only Barak’s good.”

But the Washington Post article was only the opening salvo in a broader attack by Barak on Netanyahu. Between 5 P.M. and 7 P.M.  Barak gave three interviews to the main radio stations in Israel and another interview to a major ultra-Orthodox station. Barak continued his harsh criticism of the military aid agreement and claimed that because of Netanyahu’s poor conduct vis a vis the Obama administration over the Iran nuclear deal, the grant Israel received was $3.8 billion a year and not $4.5 billion as it could have been.

At 8 P.M., Barak continued his bombardment of Netanyahu with interviews on the news programs of Israel’s three main television channels. Barak told Channel 2 that his criticism of Netanyahu over the military aid agreement and his claim that Israel could have received a grant of $4.5 billion a year “came from clear knowledge,” and not supposition. 

Barak said that beyond a better military aid deal, Netanyahu could have and should have achieved understandings with Obama regarding intelligence cooperation against Iran following the nuclear agreement as well as the actions that the United States and Israel would take if Iran broke the agreement. “Everything was on the table and waiting, but Netanyahu chose to stomp into American politics and missed the opportunity,” Barak said.

The former prime minister and defense minister also said that Netanyahu was “deceiving the public” when he says he had received a good and historic military aid agreement. “The agreement is much less than what Netanyahu is trying to present and must less than what could have been attained,” Barak said. “Netanyahu’s conduct causes major damage to the countryNetanyahu himself does not answer my arguments matter-of-factly, but responds in a frightened and childish way.”

In all the interviews Barak was asked whether he intended to return to politics and run for prime minister as people in Likud are saying. Barak denied the claim and said he did not know who had put up signs in the streets calling on him to return to politics. “Between sitting in an easy chair like a potato and doing nothing and running for prime minister there are a lot of things that can be done and that is what I’m doing,” Barak told Channel 2.