JERUSALEM (JTA) – Opposition Knesset members called for a closed-door emergency meeting to hear out Ehud Barak regarding his public claims that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has harmed Israel’s security in recent months.
Omer Bar-Lev of the centre-left Zionist Union list and Zehava Galon, chair of the left-wing Meretz party, made the call Thursday.
Bar-Lev wrote a letter to Avi Dichter, chair of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, demanding he convene the intelligence subcommittee and summon Barak, a former prime minister and a defense minister under Netanyahu, to appear before it.
Barak claimed Wednesday in a speech at an event for the left-wing Darkenu organization that Netanyahu was responsible for a “series of incidents” in recent months that had opened up the state to a “central security threat.”
Bar-Lev, who serves as the deputy-chair of the Knesset subcommittee on the preparedness of the Israel Defense Forces and ongoing security, said a classified discussion of Barak’s claims should be held as soon as possible in the committee rather than a public discourse “on stages and with microphones.”
Galon, a member of the committee, echoed the call.
“Barak cast serious aspersions on Netanyahu’s ability to defend the State of Israel’s security interests, and his words cannot be left alone,” she said, adding that Israelis had a right to know.
Barak, a former head of the Labor Party, spoke in his speech in Rishon Lezion, near Tel Aviv, of a recent incident in which Netanyahu’s mistaken judgment and poor relations with U.S. President Barack Obama had recently harmed Israel’s security, saying he could give no further details because of “the sensitivity of the matter.”
Barak also said Netanyahu’s “failings” in negotiations with the United States over a defense aid package had cost Israel hundreds of millions of shekels. He blamed the prime minister for undermining Israel’s relationship with the U.S. by “butting into the inter-party conflict there.”
At home, Barak accused Netanyahu of “directing a discourse of hatred, silencing, cronyism, intimidation, division, internecine hatred and xenophobia.”
In a similarly incendiary speech in June, Barak decried what he said was Israel’s “budding fascism,” saying the country was on track to becoming “an apartheid state.”
Senior officials from the Prime Minister’s Office said they do not know what Barak was referring to, according to Haaretz.
The Likud party said Wednesday that the former prime minister was “last person who can speak” about the defensive aid package, referring to his abrupt withdrawal of the army from Southern Lebanon as prime minister.