Barak snubs Knesset committee chair after attacking Netanyahu

The former PM criticized Netanyahu for not taking advantage of the world powers’ deal with Iran to get better aid terms from the US.

August 21, 2016 10:42
2 minute read.
Former prime minister Ehud Barak

Former prime minister Ehud Barak. (photo credit: AFP PHOTO)

Former prime minister and defense minister Ehud Barak criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for not taking advantage of the world powers’ deal with Iran to get better aid terms from the US.

The Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee will not invite Barak to elaborate on his criticism of Netanyahu after Barak snubbed committee chairman Avi Dichter (Likud).

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Following requests of opposition MKs, including Omer Bar-Lev (Zionist Union) and Zehava Gal-On (Meretz), to hold a Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting on the matter and reports that Barak would be willing to cooperate, Dichter asked Barak to meet with him to explain what he meant when he said Netanyahu is endangering Israel’s security, so that the committee chairman can decide if the comments warrant a meeting.

Dichter said Saturday night that Barak refused and there will not be a meeting on the subject.

“Subcommittees are not held by request, not by senior or junior former officials,” Dichter said. “They meet according to the committee chairman’s decision, when he is convinced that there is justification for doing so. The minimum I would need is information on the reason for appearing before the committee.”

Still, Dichter said the door is open for Barak to speak to the committee, should he choose to clarify his statements.

“When Mr. Barak deigns to speak with the chairman of the committee before which he wishes to appear, the request can be examined in a serious and respectful way,” Dichter stated. “If Mr. Barak wants to move the discussion to something more serious than headlines in the media, my invitation still stands.”

Sources close to Barak, however, told Army Radio that Barak wants to give details only in a confidential subcommittee meeting, and not one-on-one over the phone with Dichter.

“It is hard to imagine a substantial reason, without foreign interests, for rejecting [Barak’s] request to appear before the committee,” the sources told Army Radio.

The Likud continued to strike back at Barak, with a post on the party’s Facebook page calling him “the greatest failure of a prime minister in the history of Israel, who is responsible for, among other things, the Ramallah lynching [of two Israelis in 2000], and the hasty withdrawal from Lebanon [also in 2000], which brought the Iranian and Hezbollah takeover of southern Lebanon and thousands of missiles shot from there at Israeli cities.”

Barak’s comments are part of his “pathetic attempts to return to politics through baseless and irresponsible attacks on Prime Minister Netanyahu,” the Likud added.

“The Barak who lost the public’s trust in record time, after a year as prime minister, should stop preaching to Netanyahu, who won the public’s trust time after time,” the status reads.

On Wednesday, Barak accused Netanyahu of poor judgment and putting political concerns before security. In a speech to the anti-Netanyahu organization Darkenu, he blasted the prime minister for his handling of the new defense aid package from the US.

According to Barak, Israel would receive $3.8 billion in aid, instead of $4.5 b., because of Netanyahu’s poor relationship with US President Barack Obama, and the aid will be conditional on not asking Congress for additional funds. Barak criticized Netanyahu for not taking advantage of the world powers’ deal with Iran to get better aid terms from the US.

Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.

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