Barak-Ya'alon battle may be brewing

Anonymous minister attacks decision process behind flotilla attack.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
June 3, 2010 05:37
2 minute read.
Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe 'Bogie' Ya'alon.

yaalon office 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

Labor officials close to Defense Minister Ehud Barak accused Vice Premier Moshe Ya’alon on Wednesday of being the source of attacks on Barak.

In recent days an unnamed minister was quoted complaining that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu decided how to handle the Gaza flotilla without consulting the seven-member forum. The minister griped that he learned details of the mission from watching it on television and that had he been consulted, he would have opposed having naval commandos board the ships carrying paint ball guns.

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Officials close to Barak said that the anonymous minister – a member of the inner security cabinet – was Ya’alon.

“All the decision-making in this incident was improper,” the anonymous minister was quoted as saying.

“The prime minister resolved to decide everything together with the defense minister. Netanyahu shouldn’t have left such fateful decisions to an irresponsible defense minister who is drunk with power.”

Labor and Likud politicians speculated as to why Ya’alon would attack Barak. They said Ya’alon hopes to succeed Barak as defense minister. Ya’alon,they said, would prefer a more right-wing coalition without Labor. Ya’alom also wanted it known that he was not consulted about the flotilla, even though he was acting prime minister during Netanyahu’s absence. Ya’alon, claimed the sources, wanted to clear himself of wrongdoing in case of any future investigation.

Barak himself refused to speculate about who had attacked him and rolled his eyes when told it was Ya’alon. His spokesman said his attacker’s identity was irrelevant and declined to discuss the subject.

But other sources close to Barak expressed outrage and blamed Ya’alon outright. They accused him of being ungrateful, immodest, and duplicitous.

“Barak’s critics, who didn’t credit his successes, are unsurprisingly fleeing from responsibility when it appears mistakes were made,” said Labor director-general Weizmann Shiri, who is very close to Barak.

“These politicians care only about their personal advancement and not about the country. If they have criticism, they should deliver it publicly with courage, but I am not surprised that they are weak, hypocritical cowards.”

Ya’alon’s spokesman declined to respond.
Shiri dismissed a Teleseker poll published in Ma’ariv on Wednesday that found that just 39.4 percent of respondents were satisfied with Barak’s performance as defense minister and 59.7% were dissatisfied.

“Polls are lies,” Shiri said. “The public sleeps better because Barak is defense minister, and 75% are very satisfied with his performance.”

Former prime minister Ehud Olmert, who was forced out of office by Barak, gave a rare interview to Army Radio Wednesday morning in which he criticized the handling of the Gaza flotilla.

“The government must make a big effort now to fix the diplomatic situation, appease friends that are angry at us, and try to escape from the ring of isolation we are in,” Olmert said. “It is possible to restore the situation to what it was not too long ago when we were the darlings of the world, of Europe and America.”

Responding to a question about how good an idea it is that Netanyahu consults his inner circle and not the cabinet, a source in the Prime Minister’s Office said: “We make hundreds of decisions and it’s not like a kibbutz that is constantly assembled. We decide what forum to convene in each instance based on common sense.”


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