Barak-Ya'alon battle may be brewing

Anonymous minister attacks decision process behind flotilla attack.

yaalon office 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
yaalon office 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Labor officials close to Defense Minister Ehud Barak accused Vice Premier Moshe Ya’alon on Wednesday of being the source of attacks on Barak.
In recent days an unnamed minister was quoted complaining that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu decided how to handle the Gaza flotilla without consulting the seven-member forum. The minister griped that he learned details of the mission from watching it on television and that had he been consulted, he would have opposed having naval commandos board the ships carrying paint ball guns.
Officials close to Barak said that the anonymous minister – a member of the inner security cabinet – was Ya’alon.
“All the decision-making in this incident was improper,” the anonymous minister was quoted as saying.
“The prime minister resolved to decide everything together with the defense minister. Netanyahu shouldn’t have left such fateful decisions to an irresponsible defense minister who is drunk with power.”
Labor and Likud politicians speculated as to why Ya’alon would attack Barak. They said Ya’alon hopes to succeed Barak as defense minister.Ya’alon,they said, would prefer a more right-wing coalition withoutLabor. Ya’alom also wanted it known that he was not consulted about theflotilla, even though he was acting prime minister during Netanyahu’sabsence. Ya’alon, claimed the sources, wanted to clear himself ofwrongdoing in case of any future investigation.
Barak himselfrefused to speculate about who had attacked him and rolled his eyeswhen told it was Ya’alon. His spokesman said his attacker’s identitywas irrelevant and declined to discuss the subject.
But othersources close to Barak expressed outrage and blamed Ya’alon outright.They accused him of being ungrateful, immodest, and duplicitous.
“Barak’scritics, who didn’t credit his successes, are unsurprisingly fleeingfrom responsibility when it appears mistakes were made,” said Labordirector-general Weizmann Shiri, who is very close to Barak.
“Thesepoliticians care only about their personal advancement and not aboutthe country. If they have criticism, they should deliver it publiclywith courage, but I am not surprised that they are weak, hypocriticalcowards.”
Ya’alon’s spokesman declined to respond.Shiridismissed a Teleseker poll published in Ma’ariv onWednesday that found that just 39.4 percent of respondents weresatisfied with Barak’s performance as defense minister and 59.7% weredissatisfied.
“Polls are lies,” Shiri said. “The public sleepsbetter because Barak is defense minister, and 75% are very satisfiedwith his performance.”
Former prime minister Ehud Olmert, whowas forced out of office by Barak, gave a rare interview to Army RadioWednesday morning in which he criticized the handling of the Gazaflotilla.
“The government must make a big effort now to fix thediplomatic situation, appease friends that are angry at us, and try toescape from the ring of isolation we are in,” Olmert said. “It ispossible to restore the situation to what it was not too long ago whenwe were the darlings of the world, of Europe and America.”
Respondingto a question about how good an idea it is that Netanyahu consults hisinner circle and not the cabinet, a source in the Prime Minister’sOffice said: “We make hundreds of decisions and it’s not like a kibbutzthat is constantly assembled. We decide what forum to convene in eachinstance based on common sense.”