Ya'alon: Barak put politics before national interest

Vice PM slams defense minister, accuses him of presenting himself as a moderate; Barak says Ya'alon has "primary-itis."

Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya'alon 370 (photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya'alon 370
(photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon on Saturday accused Defense Minister Ehud Barak of improper behavior in dealing with the Iranian threat and relations with the US.
“Something happened with the Iranian story that is certainly improper, and that is why the Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was furious at Barak,” Ya’alon said, speaking at a cultural event in Ramat Gan’s Ramat Chen neighborhood.
According to Ya’alon, Barak put politics before the national interest.
“Netanyahu thought Barak was with him on the Iranian issue,” Ya’alon said.
“There were even briefings on the topic that I didn’t like. Barak ran away at the last minute and tried to represent himself as moderate.”
In presenting himself as moderate, Barak, who is chairman of the Independence Party, was trying to “win points” in the US and with Israeli voters, the Likud minister explained.
Ya’alon added that the military option must be the last choice in dealing with Iran, and that more sanctions should be put on the Islamic Republic.
“At the end of the day, it is possible to stop the Iranian nuclear project without military force, and to do that, we must bring [Teheran] to the dilemma of whether to continue the project or survive. Still, this won’t be effective if there is no credible military option,” he said. “Unfortunately, the American stance has not convinced Iran that the West is willing to go all the way.”
Later on Saturday, Barak said that Ya’alon caught “primary-itis, a disease that affects Likud members. Primary- itis made Ya’alon say pathetic things; it’s a shame.”
In an interview with Channel 2’s Meet the Press, Barak said he and Netanyahu were totally in sync on the Iranian issue, except that he thinks all talks on the topic should held be behind closed doors.
“I acted, act and will continue to act to ensure that we are prepared to face the Iranian threat, while successfully managing our relationship with the US, an important element in Israel’s power,” Barak said.
“I have acted responsibly in the past and will do so in the future.”
Last Saturday night, Barak and Netanyahu met amid public bickering on Iran.
The controversy broke out the previous Tuesday when a conversation in which the prime minister said Barak was undermining him in meetings in the US was leaked to the press.
The meetings in question included one with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, a close ally of US President Barack Obama, which Netanyahu learned about from the press, and another with Obama’s national security adviser, Tom Donilon, to which Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren was not invited.
After his meeting with the prime minister, Barak said he and Netanyahu “see eyeto- eye” on every aspect of the Iranian threat, as well as on “the relationship with the United States under the prime minister’s leadership.”