Former PM Barak: Netanyahu ignited Temple Mount tensions due to his probes

"The security cabinet looks like a reality show, not like a place where critical decisions can be made about security for a strong people."

July 29, 2017 21:56
2 minute read.
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) speaks with Ehud Barak at the Knesset, the Israeli pa

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) speaks with Ehud Barak at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem June 8, 2009.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu initiated the past two weeks of tensions surrounding the Temple Mount to distract the public from his criminal investigations, former prime minister Ehud Barak suggested on Saturday.

Speaking in a video he posted on his Facebook page, Barak sharply criticized Netanyahu’s handling of the situation on the Temple Mount and in the West Bank.

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“Over the last two weeks, we received a glimpse of the depths to which Netanyahu’s behavior can fall,” Barak said. “He is a man who panics, acts weak and gets dragged down due to his poor judgment; easily loses his cool-headedness; and surrenders time and time again. He is ready to set the country and the region on fire in order to save himself from his fear of criminal investigations.”

Barak noted that former Supreme Court president Meir Shamgar has said Netanyahu should be required to quit just because of the “expensive gifts scandal.” Barak criticized Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit, who he said continues to probe with no end in sight.

The former prime minister noted that he had participated in nearly every security cabinet since the days of prime minister Menachem Begin.

“The security cabinet looks like a TV reality show, not like a place where critical decisions can be made about security for a strong people,” he said. “I have never seen anything like this and it cannot be this way – our lives simply depend on it not being like this. We have it in our power to send this group of clowns home. We deserve something much better than this government.”

Likud officials responded by calling Barak “the worst prime minister in Israel’s history” and saying that he should be more modest.

“Barak will continue to tweet and post video clips and Prime Minister Netanyahu will continue to maintain Israel’s security with determination,” a Likud spokesman said.

The party struck back at Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett on Friday for criticizing Netanyahu’s support for relinquishing Arab-populated areas of pre-1967 Israel in return for annexing settlement blocs.

Bayit Yehudi released a statement late on Thursday saying the plan would cause grave harm to Israeli security. Netanyahu should stop surrendering and giving prizes to terrorism, the party said.

The Likud responded that what really harms Israeli security is “people who sit in the security cabinet and are guided not by what is good for the citizens of Israel but by their own personal interests and the headlines they leak from the closed-door forum.”

A statement released by Netanyahu’s party pointed out that Bennett voted to remove metal detectors at the entrances to the Temple Mount and “pompously declared that he supported the prime minister but then did not last a minute-and-a-half under pressure from the press and the public.”

“Israeli security should not be subjected to populism and political spin,” the Likud statement said. “Israeli security is holy and it is endangered more than anything by those who childishly and irresponsibly use it as a platform for tweeting.”

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked of Bayit Yehudi responded that “surrendering is not appreciated in the Middle East.”

In an interview with the Makor Rishon newspaper, Bennett promised that he would not recommend to President Reuven Rivlin that Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid form the next governing coalition.

“Lapid is my friend, but I would not recommend him to be prime minister,” Bennett said. “I would only recommend a candidate from the nationalist camp, not someone from the Left.”

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