Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman responded Sunday to former Defense Minister Ehud Barak's claim that he and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu first sought to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities in 2010.
Barak’s comments were made in recorded interviews with the authors of a newly published biography on him. The recordings, which were aired by Channel 2 News on Friday, were made available to the channel following the approval of the military censor.
"More surprising than discussions that were supposed to be closely guarded secrets being publicized and analyzed by the media, is that Barak has broadcast that he is a chatterbox, who is unreliable," the former foreign minister told Army Radio.
"This is perhaps one reason, among others, that Iran is supported by the international community, while we, Israel, are swept into the corner," Liberman asserted.
In the recordings, Barak is heard saying that he and Netanyahu had first planned an attack on Iran in 2010, but the attack was postponed when then-IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi said that the military was not prepared for such an operation.
The plan came up again a year later, in 2011, according to Barak, after Ashkenazi had been replaced by Benny Gantz. At that time, he said, Gantz indicated the military was indeed prepared for such an attack, and Barak and Netanyahu – who were backed by Liberman – brought the plan up for discussion before the “Octet," a group of eight senior ministers who made decisions on security-related issues.
Barak claimed it was during the Octet discussion that Moshe Ya’alon (then Strategic Affairs Ministers) and Yuval Steinitz (then Finance Minister) changed their minds about backing the plan, after previously expressing support for it.
According to Liberman, the public should never have been made aware of the Octet discussion in 2011 – then or now.
"Of course the public didn't need to know, let alone five years later. These things usually don't go out, not even 40 years later. But the disclosure now actually raises a question – how much can Israelis be privy to secrets and should information be shared with them?"
"The fact is that even Barak understood the severity of [this information] and tried to stop the military censor from approving it for publication. But, he was unsuccessful," Liberman concluded.