Knesset Panel Won't Summon Barak to Clarify Allegations Against Netanyahu

Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Avi Dichter says he asked to meet with Barak, but the former defense minister refused.

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

Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Avi Dichter (Likud) said his committee would not hold hearings on comments made last week by former Prime Minister Ehud Barak alleging that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently committed a major blunder that damaged the country's security.

Barak, in his comments last Wednesday at a public appearance, said that an incident that harmed Israel's security recently took place as a result of Netanyahu's mistaken judgment and his rocky relations with U.S. President Barack Obama. Barak said he could give no further details as to the incident because of its sensitivity.

Dichter said he contacted Barak and asked to meet with him to obtain more information, but Barak, a Labor Party prime minister and Netanyahu's former defense minister, declined.

Daniel Bar-On

In the absence of further detail, said Dichter, there was no reason to meet on the matter. He also declined to convene the committee's intelligence subcommittee on the issue, despite demands from several opposition Knesset members that it meet.

The panel doesn't simply meet on demand as a result of the actions of former senior or junior officials, Dichter, a former head of the Shin Bet security service, said. "When Barak is good enough to share the matter with the chairman of the committee before whom he is seeking to appear, it will be possible to consider it seriously and respectably."

Following Barak's comments, MK Omer Bar-Lev (Zionist Union), the deputy chairman of the subcommittee on IDF preparedness and ongoing security, called on Dichter to convene an emergency meeting of its intelligence subcommittee and to summon Barak to appear before it. Meretz chairwoman Zehava Galon, who is a member of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, also called for Barak to be summoned before the committee to clarify his remarks.

For its part, the Likud party issued a statement taking Barak to task for his remarks and called him "the most failed prime minister in the history of the State of Israel, on whose watch the Second Intifada, the abandonment of Madhat Yousef, the lynching in Ramallah and the hasty withdrawal from Lebanon, which led to the firing of thousands of missiles on Israel's cities, occurred."

Senior officials from the Prime Minister's Bureau told Haaretz that they don’t know which "security incident" Barak was referring to. "We examined the issue. There's no such thing. Period," his office said.