Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon attacked Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Tuesday after Barak seemed to side with the United States instead of with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Earlier, just hours after Netanyahu essentially rebuffed the Obama administration over its refusal to set a “red line” for Iran on its nuclear program, Barak said that the U.S. was Israel's chief ally, and that Israel could rely on Washington.
“We must not forget that the U.S. is Israel's chief ally,” Barak said, adding, “The U.S. and Israel have intimate intelligence relations, and the U.S. is Israel's main supporter in security matters. These relations are based on many years of friendship and shared values between Israel and the American people.”
“Despite the differences, and Israel's freedom to act in a manner to defend itself, we must remember the importance of our relationship with the U.S., and that it must not be harmed,” Barak said.
In response, Ya’alon expressed his full support of Netanyahu’s demands and slammed Barak for “favoring narrow political interests,” as he put it.
“I support the Prime Minister’s request that the U.S. government place clear red lines for the Iranian regime to stop its military nuclear program,” Ya’alon said.
“I'm sorry that the Defense Minister prefers narrow factional and political interests and is not backing this important demand, and is instead choosing to start his campaign at the expense of national interests and on the back of the Prime Minister,” he added.
Barak and Ya’alon are known for their longstanding rivalry and have clashed regularly in the past.
In April, Ya’alon said that Barak should not be allowed to have authority over matters related to Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria. “The Defense Minister is confrontational on the government and the settlement enterprise in Judea and Samaria,” Ya’alon said. “All he does is light fires. His mandate for dealing with communities in Judea and Samaria should be revoked and given to ministerial staff. He does not solve problems and does not sign zoning plans.”
A spokesman for Barak’s Independence party responded to Ya’alon’s Tuesday night comments and said, “Based on the record of the two men, Ya'alon will not teach Defense Minister Ehud Barak about national responsibility and about ethics and collegiality.”