Barak slammed for being too 'right-wing'

Ramon and Beilin: Defense minister not acting for peace; Barak and Mazuz spar over Gaza electricity.

Barak cabinet 298.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Barak cabinet 298.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Vice Premier Haim Ramon on Sunday morning joined Meretz Chairman Yossi Beilin in expressing disapproval of Defense Minister Ehud Barak's political agenda with regards to the Palestinians. "Contrary to what we've seen so far, I hope that [Barak] will once again act to bolster the [peace] process," Ramon told Army Radio. "I would like to hear from the Labor chairman what he is doing to help the prime minister ahead of the Annapolis convention; how he is refraining from putting sticks in the government's spokes. "If he does act for the benefit of decisions reached at the Annapolis conference, I will be the first to commend him," the vice premier added. Earlier, Meretz Chairman Yossi Beilin criticized Defense Minister Ehud Barak, saying that in the past few months the Labor party chairman had positioned his party "to the right of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's Kadima." Barak's recent actions raised doubts as to his intention to forge a peace agreement with the Palestinians, Beilin said. Meanwhile, Army Radio also reported that Barak and Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz exchanged harsh words over the phone last week after Mazuz put a freeze on Barak's decision to disrupt the supply of electricity to the Gaza Strip. Barak reportedly called Mazuz's office and confronted him harshly, after which the conversation deteriorated into a yelling match. On Sunday night, during a speech he made at a rally marking 12 years since the assassination of former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, the defense minister said that he missed "a country in which most of the residents know [right from] wrong without needing the opinion of the attorney general." Barak also expressed his expectations for the diplomatic front. "Our test is Annapolis... to go toward it with judgment and confidence, to open diplomatic horizons wherever possible," he said. "We promise you, Yitzhak, that the path you chose will win the day." Sharon Wrobel contributed to this report