Olmert, Barak 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Gil Cohen Magen)
In a rare public spat between what were once two of Israel's highest-ranking politicians, former prime minister Ehud Olmert said he did not trust Defense Minister Ehud Barak with Israel's most serious military matters, in a Channel 2 investigative report aired Monday.
"I would very much prefer that this large a responsibility on these subjects (such as the Iranian nuclear program) will be in the hands of somebody else, not his," Olmert said. "I want someone willing to slam the table and say 'enough, this is what we're willing to do, this is what we're not.'"
Barak served as defense minister during Olmert's tenure as prime minister from 2006 - 2009, during which the two allegedly presided over targeted assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists, as well as a bold IAF strike on a Syrian nuclear reactor.
Barak responded: "While Olmert is dealing with state business, for many reasons he requires supervision. And it is important that he will have people who will ensure that every action he takes will be thought through."'PM ordered IDF on alert for Iran strike in 2010'
The first part of the report, previewed Sunday, detailed how Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Barak ordered the IDF to raise its alert level ahead of a possible attack on Iranian nuclear facilities in 2010, a move which drew virulent objections from both the IDF and Mossad chiefs.
During a meeting of select senior ministers in 2010, Netanyahu allegedly ordered the IDF to raise its state of alert to “P-plus,” reserved for an imminent state of war, according to the report.
Then-IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi and then-Mossad chief Meir Dagan considered the order “illegal” and resisted it.
“This is not something you do unless you’re certain you want to see it through,” Channel 2 quoted Ashkenazi as saying.
The report cited “sources close to Ashkenazi” as explaining that such a move would create “facts on the ground” that invariably would lead to war.
Citing a number of people present at the meeting, Dagan stated unequivocally that such a move would be “illegal,” adding that it would require cabinet approval.
The report quoted him as saying after the meeting that “the prime minister and defense minister are simply trying to steal a war.”
In an interview broadcast Thursday on Channel 2, Barak accused Ashkenazi of not having adequately prepared the military for such a scenario, revealing a serious rift between Israel’s political and military echelons.
Barak also denied the claim made by both Ashkenazi and Dagan that the command would necessarily have led Israel to war with Iran.
“A chief of staff must create the operational capacity. He must provide his professional recommendation on whether or not to enact a given order, and we must even take this opinion into account. But we can also proceed in opposition to his recommendation,” Barak said.Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report