Gov't survives no-confidence vote

Barak admits raid outcome was "not what we wanted."

311_Barak in Knesset (photo credit: Courtesy)
311_Barak in Knesset
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Likud and Kadima blasted each other throughout the day on Monday, leading up to the latter’s no-confidence motion in the Knesset plenum, which was resoundingly defeated by a vote of 59-25.
The Likud complained that the opposition party was showing disloyalty in presenting the no-confidence motion, while Kadima accused the government of trying to silence legitimate criticism of its political decisions.
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The government dropped a bombshell early in the afternoon when it announced that the minister responding to the no-confidence motions would be none other than Defense Minister Ehud Barak. The defense minister rarely makes speeches before the plenum, and the choice of Barak to respond to opposition party criticism reinforced the Likud’s assertions that Kadima was unfairly criticizing the security establishment while events related to the flotilla were still unfolding.
In advance of the vote, Kadima sources said that following pressure by the party’s MKs Shaul Mofaz, Avi Dichter and Tzahi Hanegbi, the wording of the no-confidence motion had been changed to remove any mention of the IDF.
Barak: This was not the outcome we wanted
“This was not the outcome we wanted,” explained Barak, “and we are addressing this in order to ensure our struggle to prevent the strengthening of Hamas in Gaza, create the conditions for negotiating [captive IDF soldier Gilad] Schalit’s release, and frustrate terrorist attacks from Gaza.”
Barak added that the naval force that had seized the Mavi Marmara, where nine activists were killed and several commandos were wounded, was also behind the peaceful seizure of the MV Rachel Corrie, another ship that sought to breach the blockade of Gaza later last week, as well as the elimination of the squad of frogmen that tried to infiltrate Israel by sea earlier on Monday.
“I am not certain that the no-confidence motions withstand the test of seriousness,” added Barak, who also criticized calls to lift the naval blockade of the Gaza Strip.
Barak’s response focused on the no-confidence motion that was presented – also in a rare step – by opposition leader Tzipi Livni, under the title “Attempts by the government to evade responsibility and direct criticism regarding the flotilla against IDF soldiers and commanders.”
The Kadima chairwoman criticized the government for increasing Israel’s international isolation, which, she said, “is not just the cancellation of rock concerts, but also of presidential visits.”
She stressed that her party would cooperate in preventing the establishment of an international probe into Israel’s handling of the sea raid.
“In order to prevent IDF soldiers from being questioned in English, the prime minister himself must be ready to be questioned in Hebrew in an internal investigative commission,” Livni said.
She criticized claims made by the Likud that the no-confidence motion was unpatriotic.
“We have practically been accused of treason,” complained Livni, who was at pains during her speech to compliment IDF soldiers and their recent efforts.
Hours before the no-confidence votes were delivered by all members of opposition parties, save for the National Union, the same debate was played out in the State Control Committee, where coalition MKs criticized committee chairman Yoel Hasson (Kadima) for having turned the committee into what they called a “political tool” to criticize coalition lawmakers.
Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.