A furious Likud party hit back Friday at Ehud Barak for claiming that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has recently harmed Israel’s security through his actions, branding Barak a failed leader who brought disaster to the country.
Barak — who was IDF chief before a short-lived stint as prime minister and who even served as defense minister under Netanyahu — told a conference of the left-leaning Darkenu organization on Wednesday that Netanyahu had harmed US-Israel ties, which had also opened Israel up to a “major security threat.” But, Barak said, he could not go into more detail because of “the sensitivity of the issues.”
Friday’s statement from the Likud lambasted Barak as “the most incompetent prime minister in Israel’s history,” Army Radio reported.
On his watch, the statement said, Israel experienced “the Second Intifada, the [October 2000] abandonment of [IDF soldier] Madhat Yousef, the lynch [of two IDF reservists] in Ramallah, and the hasty withdrawal from Lebanon that led to a takeover of southern Lebanon by Iran and Hezbollah and the firing of thousands of missiles from there at Israeli cities.”
The statement also accused Barak of trying to make a political comeback at Netanyahu’s expense.
“His pathetic attempts to return to political life, through baseless and irresponsible attacks on Prime Minister Netanyahu, border on anarchy. It is advisable for Barak, who lost the trust of the people in a record one-year period in office, to stop preaching to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has won the public’s trust time and again,” the statement said.
Barak on Wednesday tore into Likud leader Netanyahu and his current government, painting an image of a prime minister whose inept governance has cost Israel dearly.
He accused Netanyahu of “directing a discourse of hatred, silencing, cronyism, intimidation, division, internecine hatred and xenophobia.”
Aides to Barak on Thursday clarified that the former premier was not referring to a specific event, but rather was criticizing Netanyahu for his poor conduct over a protracted period. They declined to say whether Barak was referring to relations with a specific country, Channel 2 reported.
Barak, who served as Netanyahu’s defense minister from 2009 to 2013, accused the premier of bungling negotiations with the United States over Israel’s defensive aid package, known as the memorandum of understanding.
According to Barak’s calculations, Netanyahu’s “failings” in the negotiations of the US aid package mean Israel stands to receive hundreds of millions of dollars less than it would have otherwise been given by its key ally.
“When the American military aid package is signed for the next decade, the full extent of the damage from Netanyahu’s gamble with our relations with the White House will become clear,” Barak told the conference in Rishon Lezion, on the outskirts of Tel Aviv.
“Instead of the [annual] $4.5 billion that was expected and feasible a year ago, immediately after the signing of the [Iran nuclear] deal in Vienna, Israel will get $3.8 billion and that will be subject to the demand that we not request additions from Congress,” he said.
Wednesday’s speech was Barak’s second major condemnation of the prime minister in a matter of months. In June, the former prime minister decried what he called Israel’s “budding fascism,” saying the country was on track to become “an apartheid state.”
Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report