Barak refuses to attend Knesset meeting with Ashkenazi

Defense minister says he informed Rivlin several weeks ago that he was “not prepared to take part in media shows staged by politicians.”

Barak stink-eye 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Barak stink-eye 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Tuesday refused to attend a Knesset State Control Committee meeting on the subject of appointments of senior IDF officers because the chief of General Staff, Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, was invited to the same meeting.
Barak later issued a statement saying he had informed Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin several weeks ago that he was “not prepared to take part in media shows staged by politicians.”
Barak and Ashkenazi have not been on speaking terms for many months.
Each suspects the other of being behind attempts to publicly discredit one another over the question of whether Ashkenazi would have to step down at the end of his term and, if so, whether Barak’s candidate, Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant, would replace him.
The feud broke out even before this latest and most serious crisis between the two.
According to committee chairman Yoel Hasson (Kadima), Barak told him he was prepared to attend a separate meeting on condition that Ashkenazi was not there.
The meeting was held to discuss a report issued last year by State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss on the problems involving promotions and appointments of senior military officers.
Hasson said Barak’s refusal was “a grave and unworthy step and we could have taken legal procedures against him.” However, he told the committee he had decided not to do so.
The meeting was attended by Lindenstrauss, Ashkenazi, former defense ministers Moshe Arens and MK Amir Peretz (Labor) and former chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Dan Halutz.
MK Arye Eldad (National Union) was also angered by Barak’s conduct and protested at the meeting. Later, he wrote to Rivlin, demanding that he take action against Barak and charging that the defense minister’s “gross contempt” for the Knesset had “crossed a red line.
“The defense minister cannot say he is ‘ready to appear before the committee.’ He must appear before it in accordance with the law... He cannot go on in his job as though nothing happened. Failure on your part to respond harshly will only prove that he was right.”