Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nearly fired Defense Minister Ehud Barak over the past few days, Maariv reported, citing sources close to Netanyahu.

According to the report, the prime minister was perturbed by what he perceived as Barak’s attempts, during his recent official visit to the United States, to undermine the prime minister and to present himself as an alternative to Netanyahu rather than serving as his representative.

The report Thursday also claimed that Barak had met with former Kadima party chairwoman Tzipi Livni in New York to discuss politics and possible alliances.

Unnamed Likud members were said to have encouraged Netanyahu to dismiss Barak, the former Labor party chairman who broke away and formed his own Independence party when joining Netanyahu’s government. Not only could Likud members be motivated to break up the alliance between Netanyahu and Barak, but they would likely be interested in apportioning the defense portfolio to one of the Likud MKs with significant security credentials.

Officials close to Barak insisted that the key US meeting that prompted the Likud criticism — between Barak and former top Obama administration official, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel — was a meeting between two friends of which Netanyahu was aware. They said of the Barak-Livni meeting that Israeli politicians meet all the time across party lines, as they should.