Mystery billboards urge Barak to make a comeback
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Mystery billboards urge Barak to make a comeback

Unclear who’s funding ads bemoaning Netanyahu ‘destroying the country,’ calling on former defense minister to challenge him

Former prime minister Ehud Barak speaks at a conference for the Darkenu organization in Rishon Lezion on August 17, 2016. (Neri Lider)
Former prime minister Ehud Barak speaks at a conference for the Darkenu organization in Rishon Lezion on August 17, 2016. (Neri Lider)

Billboards put up overnight Monday in the Tel Aviv area called for former prime minister Ehud Barak to run for office. It is unknown who is behind this campaign.

“Barak, you have to run,” the posters say. “Netanyahu is destroying the country.”

Over the past few months Barak, who also served as defense minister under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from 2009 to 2013, has launched a series of attacks on Netanyahu and his government.

There are rumors that Barak is intending to make a political comeback, though he has denied any intention to do so.

Asked by The Times of Israel in June if he was mulling a return to politics, Barak responded: “Let’s just leave it at what I said in there for now.”

As of Wednesday morning, no one had taken responsibility for the billboards, and there has been no comment from Barak. Commentators on Twitter questioned whether Barak himself was behind the campaign.

Barak was prime minister from 1999 until 2001. He was the leader of the Labor Party until 2011, when he splintered from it to for the Independence Party. In 2012 he chose to retire from politics rather than run, and almost certainly lose, in that year’s general election.

It is not clear whether the posters are calling on Barak to return to the Labor Party or to run against Netanyahu under another banner.

Barak, who according to polls is not popular with the general public, has become more and more vocal in recent months, prompting speculation that he’s mulling a political comeback.

During a speech at an event for the left-wing Darkenu organization in August, he accused Netanyahu of bungling sensitive negotiations with the United States over a 10-year defense package.

The former premier said that the fallout of the Jerusalem-Washington feud also opened Israel up to a “major security threat,” which, due to “the sensitivity of the issues,” he could not detail.

In response to the allegations, the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee sought to summon Barak for a classified hearing. But associates of the former prime minister later maintained Barak was speaking generally and was not referring to any specific incident.

In June, Barak leveled similarly harsh criticism at Netanyahu, condemning what he said was Israel’s “budding fascism,” and claiming the country was on track to becoming “an apartheid state.”

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