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PM on Barak tapes: Time to end ‘irresponsible’ security talk

Netanyahu finally responds to recordings in which his ex-defense minister calls him weak, reveals aborted plans to strike Iran

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem on August 16, 2015 (Abir Sultan/AFP/POOL)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem on August 16, 2015 (Abir Sultan/AFP/POOL)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought Sunday to downplay the impact of newly released recordings made by Ehud Barak, the first of which revealed Israeli deliberations about ultimately abandoned military attacks on Iran, and the latest — released Sunday — that showed Barak calling Netanyahu weak and indecisive.

“The time has come to stop irresponsible talk about matters concerning the country’s security,” Netanyahu said, according to Channel 2.

Earlier Sunday, the channel broadcast fresh clips from a recording of Barak, Netanyahu’s erstwhile defense minister, made apparently during conversations related to a new biography of himself being written by Danny Dor and Ilan Kfir.

“Bibi [Netanyahu] is weak, he doesn’t want to take difficult steps unless he is forced to,” Barak said, referring to Netanyahu’s appointment of Avichai Mandelblit as cabinet secretary after the former chief military advocate general was linked to the so-called Harpaz affair — an attempt to influence the selection of the new IDF commander in 2010.

Barak also criticized Netanyahu for a difficulty in making decisions.

“Bibi himself is clouded in a sort of deep pessimism, and a tendency… in the balance between fear and hope, he generally prefers to be more fearful, he once called it worried,” Barak said.

The Prime Minister’s Bureau said Sunday that, “Netanyahu continues to act responsibly and firmly for the sake of Israel’s security and that of its citizens, doesn’t bury his head in the sand, points out the dangers and threats as they are and acts with determination and decisiveness, exactly as he did just a few days ago in Syria, and as he has done in dozens of decisions and operations, some of which are kept out of the public eye, and for good reason.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the-then defense minister Ehud Barak attend a press conference at the PM's office in Jerusalem, November 21, 2012. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the-then defense minister Ehud Barak attend a press conference at the PM’s office in Jerusalem, November 21, 2012. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

Last week, the IDF twice struck in Syria in response to a barrage of rockets fired at Israel, allegedly by Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists. Air strikes targeted Syrian army positions as well as a vehicle said to be carrying the Islamic Jihad members who fired the rockets.

Barak, who was also previously prime minister and chief of staff, attempted to prevent the Friday broadcast of the recordings in which he discusses Israel’s plans to attack Iran, but the military censors allowed Channel 2 to play them.

In the tapes, Barak claims that he and Netanyahu wanted to attack Iran in 2010, but that chief of staff at the time 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.

Channel 2, which also broadcast the bombshell recordings made by Barak on Friday night, said Saturday that “anger” at the former defense minister was widespread among the Israeli leadership, and that numerous senior political and security officials were also privately intimating that Barak’s version of events was not entirely accurate.

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