Senior officials in three of the four largest Knesset parties duked it out Tuesday over last week's headlines about Defense Minister Ehud Barak's visit to Paris earlier this year.
The latest stage of the fight erupted early in the morning, after Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni reiterated her reaction to last week's State Comptroller's Report on Barak in an interview posted on the Internet. Livni once again emphasized her perspective: that there were acts taken by public officials that were legal but still not acceptable within the realm of political ethics.
But while her comments last week were merely absorbed within the larger constellation of criticism against the Labor Party chairman, this time around, sources close to Barak were not willing to turn the other cheek.
"The double standards and hypocrisy of Livni have reached new heights," Labor responded in an official message. "She would be better off checking first what is going on in her own party, which is the most corrupt party in the history of Israeli politics [and] which has created, through a number of scandals, reprehensible norms in public, criminal and ethical fields. The entire public remembers the parade of suspects for violation of public trust, theft, false documentation, vice and other offenses.
"Livni's voice was not heard then," the response continued. "Livni would be better off remaining silent rather than reciting slogans from her public relations advisers, and to act in accordance with the saying that 'people who have butter smeared on their heads shouldn't go out in the sun.'"
Labor was not the only party to jump to Barak's defense. A senior Likud official also issued a response, blasting "Mrs. Livni's hypocrisy," which he said was "breaking records in Israeli politics."
"Every citizen knows that the Kadima administration left the Likud administration in a very difficult situation in all aspects," the official said. "While Livni issues criticism, she should remember that a lot of work is required in order to correct all of the problems."
Last Wednesday, State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss issued a report in which he blasted Barak for running up NIS 527,000 in hotel costs for himself, his wife and his entourage, for a four-night stay at the Intercontinental Hotel in Paris during the Paris Air Show in June.