Former prime minister Ehud Barak accused his successor of emulating Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and hinted he would suffer the same fate, drawing charges of incitement to violence Sunday.
Barak, a frequent and vocal critic of Benjamin Netanyahu, accused the prime minister of passing corrupt legislation meant only to ensure his political survival, comparing him to the Romanian Communist leader who was forced from power in a popular uprising in 1989 and swiftly executed.
“The moral collapse of Netanyahu has begotten laws whose only purpose is to help the government escape the corruption, bribery and breach of trust affairs it is suspected in,” he said at a speech in Tel Aviv.
“It’s an expression of moral degradation that is not working for the good of citizens but for submission to a seemingly corrupt leader. This is reminiscent of Elena and Nicolae Ceausescu more than a model society or a light unto the nations.”
“The nation that brought him to power is that which will remove from power one who degrades the nation and its citizens,” he added, according to the media reports.
In response to the speech, Netanyahu’s Likud Party said the former prime minister was “inciting murder” against the prime minister.
“He’s simply lost it,” the party said in a statement.
Netanyahu is currently suspected in three graft cases, though he has not been indicted. A number of laws passed recently have been thought to be attempts to shield him from the investigations, such as legislation that will keep police from publishing recommendations to indict suspects.
Ceausescu ruled Romania with an iron fist for decades until 1989, when violent protests against official corruption forced him and his wife Elena to flee Bucharest in late December 1989.
They were executed on December 25 after being captured by soldiers loyal to a provisional government.
Barak, who is thought to have aspirations of returning to political office, has vociferously criticized Netanyahu over the corruption probes and called for him to step down in the past.
In response to Likud’s charge, Barak hinted on Twitter at charges that Netanyahu had engaged in incitement to violence ahead of the 1995 assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.
This is not the first time Netanyahu has been compared to Ceausescu, though last time the charge was leveled at Barak as well. In 2012, when Netanyahu formed a short-lived unity government with the centrist Kadima party, neophyte politician Yair Lapid joked that the last time there was a government so wide, it belonged to the Romanian leader.
At the time, Barak, who split off Labor to join the government with his own Independence Party, served as defense minister under Netanyahu. Lapid and his freshman Yesh Atid party would go on to join Netanyahu’s government after elections the next year.
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