Barak gives Netanyahu security briefing

Defense minister spokesman: No politics discussed in meeting; opposition leader also meets Sheetrit.

ehud barak 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
ehud barak 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Defense Minister Ehud Barak met with opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu on Thursday and briefed the Likud chairman on military and security matters. The two met at the defense minister's office at IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv, and were joined by Barak's top military advisers Amos Gilad, the head of the Defense Ministry's diplomatic-security bureau, Barak's chief of staff Mike Herzog, and Eitan Dangot, his military attaché. Although radio reports speculated that the meeting had a hidden political agenda, Barak's associates denied the claim, saying, "You don't talk politics when those three people are there." But they did say that Barak might have briefly spoken to Netanyahu one-on-one on his way out of the meeting. By law, only the prime minister is required to give a military update to the opposition. Given that the defense minister has no obligation to provide such a briefing, the meeting points to a warming of relations between the two officials. Nearly all polls show that Netanyahu will win the next election, and he has said publicly time and again that he will form a national unity government. It is likely that Barak would remain defense minister in such a government. Netanyahu also met on Thursday with Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit (Kadima), and two weeks ago he met with former Kadima MK Uriel Reichman. Both men denied that there were any political reasons for meeting with Netanyahu. Reichman has vowed to never return to politics. Sheetrit said he was committed to winning the Kadima leadership. Sheetrit, who polls show is running a distant fourth in the race for Kadima chairman, held a rally with 40 mayors in Rishon Lezion on Monday. He said the mayors all expressed support for him in the race, including Union of Local Authorities in Israel chairman Adi Eldar of Karmiel and several Arab, Druse and Beduin mayors. The Globes newspaper reported earlier this week that Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni would leave Kadima and form a new party if she lost the Kadima leadership race in mid-September. While Livni's office has denied the report, MKs who support her said there would be no reason for her to remain in the party as someone else's deputy. Channel 1 correspondent Ayala Hasson reported that the Labor Party commissioned a poll to find out how a Livni-led party would fare against Labor and Kadima if it were led by Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz. The poll found that Livni's new party would not do well. Matt Zalen contributed to this report.