Hoenlein denies backing Barak for MoD

Herzog: US Jewish leader unofficially endorsed ex-PM because of Gates ties.

Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations Malcom Hoenlein unintentionally became embroiled inside the Labor Party leadership race on Monday when Tourism Minister Isaac Herzog revealed in an interview with Army Radio that Hoenlein told him that former Prime Minister Ehud Barak should return to the Defense Ministry because of his close ties with US Defense Secretary Robert Gates. "The very fact that he is close friends with Gates is reason enough to bring him back to the Defense Ministry," Hoenlein said, according to Herzog.
  • Analysis: Are we ready for Barak - again? Hoenlein told The Jerusalem Post on Monday that "the Conference of Presidents and its leaders have not made any endorsements, as is our long-standing policy." He would not comment further on the subject, except to say, "Nobody interviewed me, nobody spoke to me." Barak has received endorsements in recent days from ministers Binyamin Ben Eliezer, Shalom Simhon and on Monday from Herzog himself. Herzog said in the interview that Hoenlein's opinion had a significant impact on his decision to back Barak. Herzog said he supported Barak because he believed that he learned from his mistakes and that he was the best man to lead the party in the current circumstances. The front-running candidate in the May 28 race, MK Ami Ayalon, met with Hoenlein in the Knesset last month. Ayalon declined to comment.