Barak: Netanyahu surrenders to Trump like a poodle

Decisions today on disqualifying parties, cameras in polls.

August 24, 2019 22:21
2 minute read.
Ehud Barak speaks at a press conference with his Israel Democratic Party.

Ehud Barak speaks at a press conference with his Israel Democratic Party.. (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)

Former prime minister Ehud Barak accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of causing permanent harm to Israel’s relationship with American Democrats, warning that US President Donald Trump would not be in office forever.

Barak referred to Netanyahu’s decision to bar US Rep. Ilhan Omar and initially also Rep. Rashida Tlaib from visiting Israel, following a tweet by Trump.

“Netanyahu surrenders to Trump like a poodle and not like a statesman who heads an independent country that has a historic strategic interest in maintaining its bipartisan connections,” Barak said at a cultural event in Shoham on Saturday.

Barak also attacked Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman, saying that he cannot be trusted to fight corruption, prevent harm to Israeli democracy or to advance the diplomatic process with the Palestinians.

He called the prospects of a coalition that included Blue and White and Yisrael Beytenu together “delusional.”

But Blue and White leader Benny Gantz called Liberman a strategic partner in an interview with Channel 12. He also reacted for the first time to the willingness of Joint List leader Ayman Odeh to join a coalition formed by Gantz under certain conditions.

“Will serve all Israeli citizens, Jews and Arabs,” Gantz told Channel 12’s Meet the Press program. “We will only sit in a coalition with those who recognize Israel as a Jewish democratic state.”

Odeh called Gantz a racist, whose party’s diplomatic policies are unclear and who has never called for a two-state solution. He said that if Gantz had more courage, he could lead a blocking majority to prevent Netanyahu from forming a coalition.

“The ball is in Gantz’s court, and he is refusing,” Odeh said on Meet the Press. “I don’t know why he is rejecting us.”

Liberman appeared to express hope on Saturday that the Likud could build the next government but not under Netanyahu. He said that if there are not 61 MKs who recommend to President Reuven Rivlin that Netanyahu form the government, “the Likud will replace Netanyahu immediately.”

But Likud MK David Bitan, who is close to Netanyahu, responded that he was not worried, and that the Right will have 61 MKs without Yisrael Beytenu. Bitan said he believed Labor-Gesher would also join the coalition.

“Labor has socioeconomic plans that cost millions,” he said. “They cannot implement them from outside the government, so I think they will totally want to join after we form a coalition with our partners.”

Bitan expressed hope that the Supreme Court will decide on Sunday to ban the Joint List from running in the September 17 election and permit Otzma Yehudit and its candidates to run. But the most likely scenario is that court will rule to ban Otzma candidate Bentzi Gopstein and approve the rest of the party and the Joint List.

There will also be a ruling on Sunday by Supreme Court Judge Hanan Melcer, head of the Central Elections Committee, on whether cameras should be permitted in polling stations, after complaints by the Joint List about cameras operated by Likud activists in Arab cities and towns.

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