Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's Likud party has responded with vehement criticism against former Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Monday night, after Channel 2 leaked recordings of Barak blaming Netanyahu for the abduction and murder of three Israeli teenagers in June 2014.
"Barak is pathetic," the Likud party stated Monday night. "His attempts to return to the public forum cross all lines – including defaming the Prime Minister, rewriting events to glorify himself, unraveling norms of national responsibility and hurting the critical interests of the State of Israel."
"Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu did not need Ehud Barak to decide what to do regarding the release of Gilad Shalit," Likud representatives continued. "The Prime Minister is such that he decided on the [terrorist[ release [in exchange for Shalit] and brought the issue to the government for approval, exactly as he did when he approached the government about rearresting the terrorists [released in the] Shalit deal who tried to return to terror – after Barak was not Defense Minister [anymore]."
"Prime Minister Netanyahu was doing well before Barak and is doing well after him," Likud concluded. "The only person who can't cope with this is Barak himself, who seeks to find a way to return to the public eye out of an inflated sense of self-importance."
Channel 2's Roni Daniel has published two sets of leaks since last Friday featuring Barak.
In the first, the former Defense Minister stated that the IDF refrained from carrying out attacks on Iran and Iranian nuclear facilities between 2010-2012 due to hesitation from current Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon and current Energy and Water Minister (but recent Minister of Strategic Affairs) Yuval Steinitz.
The second set of recordings, meanwhile, reveals that Barak has blamed the Prime Minister for how the 2011 Gilad Shalit deal was handled, and that he views Netanyahu's lack of follow-up regarding released terrorists and media handling of the event as providing a platform for Hamas terrorists to capture teens Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Shaer, and Naftali Frankel in June 2014.
Barak claims he had to "sit on" Netanyahu for "months" to get Shalit back and to kick the government, the Knesset, and the Shamgar Committee into high gear over the issue, although he admits Netanyahu also wanted Shalit released. In the end, Barak claims, Netanyahu's reluctance to take definitive action led to the kidnapping of teenagers Naftali Frankel, Eyal Yifrah, and Gilad Sha'er in 2014, as he had failed to do "the necessary follow-up."
Barak also heavily criticized how Netanyahu handled Shalit's release and return to Israel. The official welcoming ceremony held was "pretty petty," Barack claimed, and said that bureaucratic issues mangled the handling of the event. Barak ultimately was responsible for securing the Israeli Air Force (IAF) base where the ceremony took place, even though those functions are normally handled by the IDF Chief of General Staff.
Barak further accused Netanyahu of wanting to take all the credit and the attention for Shalit's return during the ceremony, and that the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) insisted on specific shots for the event – including that when Shalit first landed, only Netanyahu himself would additionally be in the frame.
Earlier Monday night, Barak's legal team threatened to sue Channel 2 over the leaks.