Rift Deepens Between Netanyahu and Barak

Netanyahu plans to meet with Foreign Minister Lieberman about the budget, but not with Barak, reports indicate.

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Elad Benari,

Netanyahu and Barak
Netanyahu and Barak
Flash 90

The rift between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak deepened on Wednesday, according to a report on Kol Yisrael radio.

The report indicated that Netanyahu will meet on Thursday with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to discuss the budget for 2013. However, no similar meeting has been scheduled with Barak.

Netanyahu's associates accused Barak on Wednesday of not coordinating with Netanyahu a meeting he held last week with Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, a close associate of U.S. President Barack Obama.

Barak's office claimed that the meeting, which took place when Barak was on a working visit in the United States, was approved by the Prime Minister and was not kept from him.

During the meeting, Barak and Emanuel discussed the crisis in the relations between Israel and the U.S. Emanuel later denied claims that he was asked to mediate between Obama and Netanyahu, saying, "If Israeli government officials want to send a message to the President, they can do so directly.”

On Tuesday, Channel 2 News published reports, according to which Netanyahu is claiming that Barak is trying to spark conflict between Israel and the United States.

The two have been close confidants, with Barak, a left of center politician, originally giving Netanyahu legitimacy in the U.S. as a man of balance politically.  Barak was Netanyahu's superior officer during their IDF service.

The report said that during a meeting between the Prime Minister and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, Netanyahu revealed signs of mistrust and conflict between himself and his defense minister, saying Barak went to the U.S. to stir up trouble, with intentions of returning to Israel as the hero who stood up to Obama and the rest of Washington.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, speculations continued as to whether Netanyahu is planning to hold early elections. Netanyahu has reportedly told his coalition partners that he will decide whether or not to hold early elections within two weeks.

The Prime Minister may seek early elections if the coalition is unable to agree on the 2013 budget and if elections are held early, they are expected to take place in February.