Former prime minister Ehud Barak.
(photo credit: AFP PHOTO)
Former prime minister Ehud Barak said on Friday the current governing coalition led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "is exhibiting signs of fascism."
In an interview with Channel 10, Barak offered withering criticism of Netanyahu's decision to appoint Avigdor Liberman as defense minister in place of Moshe Ya'alon in a move to expand his coalition and solidify his hold on power.
Ya'alon resigned from the government on Friday, even as Netanyahu tried to compensate him by offering him the job of foreign minister.
Ya'alon notified Netanyahu of his resignation from the government on Friday morning.
In a statement he posted on his social media accounts, Ya'alon said that he took the decision to leave "following the recent conduct" of Netanyahu, and "in light of my lack of faith in him."
"I am resigning from the government and Knesset, and am taking a time out from political life," Ya'alon said.
Prior to Ya'alon's announcement on Friday morning, it had been believed that Netanyahu would offer him the job of foreign minster as compensation.
Temple Mount activist Yehuda Glick is the next person on the Likud list and will become an MK in place of Ya'alon.
Netanyahu and Ya’alon had sparred over the defense minister’s support for embattled IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen. Yair Golan and Netanyahu’s support for a soldier who opened fire on an already “neutralized” Palestinian in Hebron on March 24.
Last week Netanyahu, summoned Ya’alon after he said IDF commanders should continue to speak their minds on issues of morality and ethics, in an apparent reference to the controversy that followed Golan's Holocaust Remembrance Day comments.
In his impassioned remarks to Channel 10, Barak implied that Liberman did not have the temperament to serve as defense minister.
"Appointing unfit defense ministers have already led to bad results," Barak said, an apparent reference to Amir Peretz, the union leader who assumed the post of defense minister in Ehud Olmert's government
after capturing the chairmanship of the Labor Party.
"We will apparently have to pay the price for this appointment," the former premier said. "I pray that the price won't be too hefty."
Barak seemed to be echoing Ya'alon in his remarks, saying: "Extremist elements have taken over the State of Israel."
"The outgoing defense minister, Moshe Ya'alon, was the victim of a purge," Barak said. "In the initial months, Liberman will give off the impression that he is moderate. Sooner or later, however, we will see the price we have to pay."
Barak said that he has encountered on his travels around the world many "world leaders" and "leading shapers of public opinion" who "do not believe the Israeli government [and its stated desire for peace]."
Liberman's office issued a response to Barak, saying: "The legacy left behind by Ehud Barak following his term as prime minister and defense minister include a country on fire, smoldering ruins, failed military operations, and a number of shady and suspicious arms and weapons deals."