Barak goes on the offensive against Netanyahu, Olmert

Says Bibi's handling of economy as finance minister "crushed Israeli welfare, brought Israelis to a situation where they must live day to day."

Barak grin 224 88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Barak grin 224 88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Defense Minister Ehud Barak took aim Friday at his two expected opponents in the next general election in a speech to the Labor Party's young guard, criticizing opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Barak said that Netanyahu's handling of the economy as finance minister "crushed Israeli welfare and brought millions of Israelis to a situation where they must live day to day." The Labor leader confessed that Netanyahu "did a few good things" as finance minister but he said that only Labor could balance between maintaining a modern economy and showing solidarity with the working class. Barak made reference to the investigations of Olmert and a new investigation of Netanyahu published on Friday in Yediot Aharonot that alleged that Netanyahu used his influence to aid a multi-million dollar building project in Jerusalem in which his closest confidants would benefit financially. Netanyahu's office denied the charge. "If such clouds of suspicion were hovering over the heads of the Labor Party like they are hovering over the heads of leaders in other places, Labor members would be expelling them from the party," Barak said. Barak said he found it incomprehensible that Olmert and Netanyahu have "acted as if nothing happened." Likud faction chairman Gideon Sa'ar responded to Barak's attack by saying that the Labor chairman was speaking out of desperation due to his tailspin in the polls. A Gal Hadash poll broadcast Thursday on Channel 10 revealed that 49 percent of Israelis were unsatisfied with Barak's job performance and only 30% were satisfied. The percentage of Israelis satisfied with Barak has fallen from 53% just six months ago. "With his poll numbers falling so fast, perhaps Barak should concentrate on providing security to the citizens of Sderot and the western Negev," Sa'ar said. "If Barak really believes the public doesn't want Netanyahu, than he should keep his promise to leave the government when the Winograd Report is published." Barak made reference to that promise in his speech on Friday. He said he remembered his promise and that he was waiting for the report to be published before making a final decision about whether to keep Labor in the government. Olmert told the Meretz faction last week that despite calls from politicians, including Barak, he would not resign after the Winograd report was published.