Hebron evacuation boosts attacks on Barak

Defense minister slams Strategic Affairs Minister Ya’alon for "undermining government."

Beit Hamachpela in Hebron 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Beit Hamachpela in Hebron 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Right-wing politicians took aim at Defense Minister Ehud Barak Wednesday before and after his order to evacuate Jewish settlers from Beit Hamachpela in Hebron.
Ministers from Likud, Israel Beiteinu and Habayit Hayehudi said Barak had too much influence for the leader of a faction of five MKs. They called upon Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to strip Barak of his authority to determine the fate of West Bank settlements and give it to a ministerial committee.
“All he does is start fires instead of solving problems,” said Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon, a former IDF chief of staff. “He does not represent the policies of the government.
There is a coalition agreement. Decisions have to be made by the government and not based on the ideology of one faction.”
Ya’alon accused Barak of “manipulating the prime minister” to authorize the evacuation, saying that Netanyahu had “fallen into Barak’s trap.”
Asked on Israel Radio about the chances of Barak eventually joining Likud, he said: “Anyone who thought they could bring a proposal for reserved slots or a merger with Barak’s faction to the Likud convention now knows there is overwhelming opposition to such moves.”
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman (Israel Beiteinu) reiterated his warning that Barak’s behavior could lead to a coalition crisis. Habayit Hayehudi chairman Daniel Herschkowitz said Barak should be replaced, even if it means going to elections.
Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat said that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu must remember that he is leading a Likud government, not an Independence government.
MK Danny Danon (Likud) sent a letter to Netanyahu asking that Ya’alon be made defense minister.
Barak responded by accusing his critics of caring more about their own political future than the good of the country. He singled out Ya’alon, who he said was trying to build up his credentials for a future prime ministerial run.
“The man who declared himself Netanyahu’s successor started his campaign for the next primary,” Barak said. “He is out to enlist the votes of [Likud activist Moshe] Feiglin.
It is unfortunate that Ya’alon mixes cheap political considerations in defense establishment decisions, while undermining the responsibility of the government to protect democracy and the rule of law.”
Barak’s associates compared the defense minister to former NBA center Shaquille O’Neal, who faced physical defense when he was at his prime that was known as “hack-a-Shaq.”
“The Right is playing a game of hack-a-Barak,” they said.
“Likud politicians are competing over who could issue a fiercer comment attacking the defense minister. This is yet another problem with the primary system in Israel today.”