One of the writers who conducted a series of interviews with former prime minister Ehud Barak in which he detailed near-strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities says the tapes were leaked to the media in a dispute over rights to the English version of his biography.
Ilan Kfir, co-author of a new Hebrew-language biography of Barak, said he and colleague Danny Dor decided to air the interviews after Barak backtracked on a pledge to give them the rights to the English-language version of the book.
Kfir said he and Dor have 100 hours of Barak on tape — which were recorded with his full consent — and that the leaked recordings already appear in text form in the soon-to-be-released Hebrew book, of which the parts relating to Iran have been proofread by Barak and authorized by the military censor.
The leaked tapes, detailing three times Israel ostensibly planned to strike Iran but refrained for various reasons, have rocked Israel’s political landscape since they were first aired by Channel 2 news Friday night after being cleared by the country’s military censor.
Kfir and Dor released the interviews to promote their book on Barak, “Wars of My Life,” after they found out that the former prime minister had concurrently signed with an American publisher to produce an entirely different book for sale overseas.
“It was clear that our book would serve as the basis for his [English] biography,” Kfir told Army Radio Sunday.
“But Barak, being Barak, took an irrational path, a skewed path, and decided to act like he did. We have an interest in promoting the book. It’s not his book, it’s ours. The recordings are our property. When the time came to publicize the book we decided the tapes were a legitimate tool to do so. Ehud, of his own volition, decided to oppose [it],” he said.
Kfir expressed his bewilderment at Barak’s opposition to the move — as the exposé on Iran already appears in the book
Kfir added that another factor involved in his decision to leak the tapes came as Barak backpedaled on a scheduled interview on Israeli TV to advertise the book and elaborate on some of the sensitive issues it deals with.
Kfir explained that Barak had attempted to prevent the release of the recordings through the military censor, but they were authorized for publication in any case after a handful of minor changes and omissions.
“We decided to expose only a small amount of the material,” he said. “If he would have told us that he prefers the tapes not be published, we would have granted his request, and not released the recordings.”
Kfir expressed his bewilderment at Barak’s opposition to the move — as the exposé on Iran already appears in the book.
Israel’s leadership, from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on down, has reacted furiously to the revelations, with former foreign minister Avigdor Liberman calling them a unneeded exposition of state secrets and Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Tzachi Hanegbi lashing out at the censor for allowing their publication.
In the tapes Barak claims that he and Netanyahu wanted to attack Iran in 2010, but that then-chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi indicated that there was no viable plan for such an operation; that they were thwarted in 2011 by the opposition of fellow ministers Moshe Ya’alon and Yuval Steinitz; and that a planned 2012 strike was aborted because it happened to coincide with a joint Israel-US military exercise and Israel did not want to drag the US into the fray.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.