Officials say defense minister may use post on censorship committee to prevent publication; former Sharon aides confirm defense minister once ‘begged’ to join Kadima.
By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
Defense Minister Ehud Barak will be able to prevent the publication of portions of former prime minister Ehud Olmert’s book that attacks him, because he serves on a censorship committee, political officials confirmed on Monday.Olmert faced criticism for his speech on Sunday night in which he accused Barak of trying to undermine military operations, in what was seen as a reference to an alleged IAF strike on a Syrian nuclear installation in September 2007.Sources close to Barak pointed out that when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke openly about the operation in an interview with Channel 1, Kadima MKs accused him of revealing military secrets.But Olmert’s spokesman Ya’acov Galantee said he spoke to the military censor, who said there was nothing problematic with what he said.Barak’s associates continued to deny Olmert’s allegations that he had begged to join Kadima. But Olmert’s former secretary Shula Zaken told reporters who saw her in court that she had organized the meetings and what Olmert said was true.Former aides to former prime minister Ariel Sharon also confirmed that Barak had begged him to let him join Kadima.But they said Barak’s nemesis, Haim Ramon, persuaded Sharon not to take him.Advertisement“Barak sent messengers to Arik when Kadima was formed asking to join unconditionally,” a former Sharon aide said.“He did not ask for a portfolio or a particular place on the [Knesset candidates] list as long as he would be in.“But Ramon warned Sharon that Barak would undermine him, and Sharon believed him.”Sources close to Barak accused Olmert of “trying to rewrite history due to his shame and criminality.”Barak’s associates tried unsuccessfully to get Labor cabinet ministers to defend Barak, but they declined to do so because of their closeness to Olmert.The only Labor official to defend Barak was Labor Party director-general Weizmann Shiri.“Olmert is clearly attacking now because his advisers told him to distract the public from his trial,” Shiri said. “He is a political hack who ended his career as a criminal. His entire life has been manipulations.What he says is delusional.”Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Tzahi Hanegbi (Kadima) was the only MK who defended Barak from Olmert’s criticism, saying that Israelis could sleep soundly with Barak as defense minister and that the dispute between the two Ehuds did not harm the country’s security.“The relations between the two were very bad and I had to bridge the gaps between the two on multiple occasions,” Hanegbi told Army Radio.“Looking back on the time that Olmert and Barak worked together, decisions were made in the most professional and statesmanlike manner and the tension between them did not harm their decisions.”National Union MK Arye Eldad wrote to Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein on Monday, asking him to expedite his investigation of Barak’s transfer of his companies to his daughter.“That way, Barak and Olmert could settle their differences when they share the same jail cell,” Eldad said.Former Kadima MK Menahem Ben-Sasson reacted on Monday to Olmert’s statement in his book that Barak had asked to be placed 20th on the Kadima candidates list, a slot that Olmert gave to Ben-Sasson, who is currently president of the Hebrew University.“I am sure that [Barak and I] are both satisfied with our lot, and that is the key to our public service,” Ben-Sasson said.
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