Former Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Friday continued his verbal attacks against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
A day after calling for Netanyahu to be toppled during a speech at the Herzliya Conference, Barak clarified in an interview with Channel 2 News that he has no intentions for running for Prime Minister again, but hinted he would work to bring an end to Netanyahu’s rule in other ways.
"I'm the only one in this studio who defeated Netanyahu in the elections," Barak said, in reference to the 1999 election. "I was not offered the Foreign Ministry and I would not have accepted had I been offered. Netanyahu is panicking, the countdown to the end of Netanyahu's tenure has begun.”
Barak, who served as Defense Minister under Netanyahu until 2013 and was once one of the closest people to the Prime Minister, rejected the criticism over his speech at the Herzliya Conference in which he called for a public protest against Netanyahu.
"A popular protest is legitimate, and all those criticizing from the right – remove the cobwebs from your eyes. I did not suggest standing on the balcony in Zion Square and holding a picture of Netanyahu in an SS uniform. All this happened under the personal supervision of Netanyahu himself,” he charged, in what could be a hint that he considers Netanyahu responsible for some of the incitement before the assassination of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
“The Likud has been hijacked. A settlers’ group signed up for the Likud primaries and put a lot of members in its Central Committee,” Barak claimed, adding that "Netanyahu has changed as a result of the Likud being abducted by the extreme right.”
The situation, he continued, “began to deteriorate a year ago, when for the first time there was an all right-wing government that is leading a cunning way that endangers the future of the State of Israel.”
Barak made clear that he does not intend to run for Prime Minister and said, “Running for Prime Minister or remaining silent are not the only options. I was there 15 years ago at every position, and I believe that I stood the ‘Rabin test’, which is in essence the ability to make decisions for the whole country, even if that means a brief tenure. I wish the same was true for Bibi. I'm going to take action – not run for Prime Minister or work within any political framework, but act to change the situation.”
"I'm the only in this studio who defeated Netanyahu in the elections. He has no charm, he knows how to work, but there is nothing in him that cannot be overcome. It is time to be replaced, you’ve lost it," he continued.
“Netanyahu is politically talented, and that’s why there are people who have been exposed to false information for a long time; for example, that it is impossible to meet the security requirements of Israel with a two-state solution. The fact that it is impossible to talk with Abu Mazen does not mean the government should not act – we are missing an historic opportunity by not participating in an international conference. Judging by the responses of the last 24 hours we see the signs of panic, he understands that the countdown toward the end of his term has begun,” said Barak.
He also rejected the claims that he spoke differently when he was part of Netanyahu’s cabinet, saying, "If you open the protocols you will find very harsh comments from me, while I was part of the government. They heard me say very difficult things.”
The Likud responded to the Channel 2 interview by saying, "Ehud Barak, who wants for the umpteenth time to return to the position of savior of the left, is a failed politician and Prime Minister who is trying to make his way back into politics. This is why he tries to stay in the public eye at all costs, including making statements that completely contradict what he said as he sat in the government. Back then he showered the Prime Minister with praise. This is not about ideology but rather about ‘seatology.’”
"The same Barak who speaks about the sanctity of democracy simply cannot accept the fact that the Israeli public and even his own party showed him the way out,” added the Likud. "His call on people to get up and overthrow a government elected just a year ago after the people spoke so clearly is reminiscent of the call of the left to ‘replace the nation’. Ehud Barak and the party of the frustrated do not represent the majority of the people of Israel who are united and proud of their country. Contrary to the incitement being uttered today for the purpose of a political campaign, Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Likud will continue to lead the State of Israel toward security, prosperity and unity. We will not bury our heads in the sand as the left chooses to do. We look at the reality with open eyes and we will continue to act with determination and responsibility for the security of Israel and its citizens.”
(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)