Then-IDF chief Gabi Ashkenazi (L) and then-Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Former prime minister Ehud Barak and former IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi put years of enmity behind them Wednesday evening when they shook hands at book launch in Tel Aviv.
Barak praised Ashkenazi at the event for succeeding in implementing the withdrawal from southern Lebanon without casualties in May 2000 when Barak was prime minister and Ashkenazi headed the IDF Northern Command. The withdrawal was the subject of the book, written by Amos Gilboa.
When the handshake took place, the crowd at the event broke out in raucous cheering.
Ashkenazi, who will be speaking at The Jerusalem Post Conference in New York in May, is seen as a potential candidate for prime minister, if he enters politics.
Barak, 74, declined to rule out returning to politics in an interview with Channel 2, saying merely, “I am not there at the moment, but I am also not a prophet.”
Ashkenazi and Barak fought bitterly after Barak became defense minister in June 2007 and inherited Ashkenazi as the IDF chief of staff. They argued over appointments in the IDF and each other’s behavior.
Barak declined to extend the tenure of Ashkenazi as chief of staff in a manner that Ashkenazi saw as humiliating.
The fight between the two men hit its peak with the so-called Harpaz Affair in which they were on opposite sides of a feud involving forged documents regarding who should succeed Ashkenazi as chief of staff. The Attorney-General’s Office decided in January to close the case against Ashkenazi and clear him, which could enable him to embark on a political career.