Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz expressed distrust of Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Friday, saying in a Channel 2 interview that Prime Minster Binyamin Netanyahu should be wary of what he called Barak's history of political trickery.
"Barak has already pulled tricks on two occasions in the past. Once against Kadima and former prime minister Ehud Olmert and once against his friends in the Labor party - he's liable to try and pull another trick."
Steinitz made the comments while discussing his efforts to pass a new budget and the possibility that not everyone in Netanyahu's coalition would support the budget which could lead to early elections.
"He has become very interested in social justice in the past months, and attacked the prime minister's economic policy," Steinitz said of Barak. "I wouldn't be surprised if he was planning a third trick...I told Netanyahu, 'Don't be naive, what happened to them can happen to us.'"
"I hope he will support the budget," Steinitz added.
As Labor Party leader in 2008, Barak initiated the ouster of then-prime minister Olmert by threatening to leave the coalition with Kadima if Olmert was not replaced as the party's leader amid corruption allegations. Last year, Barak split from Labor, forming the Independence Party which remained in the coalition and ensured Barak would keep his place as defense minister.
Ha'aretz reported earlier this week that Barak may be aiming to join a new party that would be headed by former Kadima leader Tzipi Livni, and that he would potentially serve as defense minister in a Livni government.
Following Steinitz's comments on Friday, the Independence Party released a statement saying: "Yuval Steinitz is a strange and confused man, and everyone who saw him tonight understood this."
Barak and Steinitz have publicly quarreled over the past year over disagreements on the defense budget. Steinitz has called for a lower and more transparent defense budget, prompting Barak to accuse Steinitz of harming state security.