Former prime minister and Labor chairman Ehud Barak and current party leader Avi Gabbay address recent rumors of political partnership.
By GIL HOFFMANUpdated: AUGUST 16, 2017 00:22
Former prime minister and Labor chairman Ehud Barak and current party leader Avi Gabbay vigorously denied a report in Tuesday’s Israel Hayom newspaper that they had reached an agreement on Barak’s political comeback.The report said Barak would receive a reserved slot on Labor’s list for the next Knesset and would be the party’s candidate for defense minister.He would also head a “cabinet of former security figures.”Barak has been increasingly active on social media in recent months, releasing videos in which he criticizes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He supported Gabbay in the July 4 race for Labor leader and celebrated his victory.“A lead headline that is completely baseless,” Barak tweeted. “The heat must have gotten to Israel Hayom. Fake news. Why didn’t they make the effort to get a response? My response would have been that it is not and has not been true.”Gabbay’s office said, “Barak is an honorable man but there are no contacts with him,” and that the matter would only be decided ahead of the next general election.Other former security figures reported to have been asked to join the forum include former IDF chiefs of staff Gaby Ashkenazi and Benny Gantz, former OC Northern Command Amiram Levin, and former OC Southern Command Yom-Tov Samiah.Samiah told The Jerusalem Post he would be interested in being part of such a forum.“I respect the party chairman, and I would like him to bring Labor back to power,” Samiah said. “I would be happy to contribute my experience to help that happen.”MK Omer Bar-Lev, a former commander of the General Staff Reconnaissance Unit (Sayeret Matkal) who was also reported to be part of the forum, responded to the report by saying “Since when do you believe what is written in the paper?”