Former Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Thursday called for unity among center-left parties and organizations in order to bring about the downfall of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Speaking at the 17th Herzliya Conference, Barak said that “the last few months have witnessed nationwide the first signs of a societal awakening. Not only the first buddings, but the first flowering. In the face of the political developments in our region, public corruption, and extremist takeover of the ruling party, a growing portion of the Israeli nation understands that silence is not an option.”
He referred to his speech at the conference last year, in which he warned that “the Netanyahu government would try to systematically upend the foundations of democracy, so that they wouldn’t form a barrier in slipping towards an ‘apartheid’ regime. That the government would continue to attack the High Court of Justice, civil society, the independent media, and the values of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).”
According to Barak, “A civil awakening has begun, but the change will come only through cooperative action. When the urge and courage to change Israel’s young generation with sound judgement and experience of the elder generation, and together people from the center and from the right and left of the political spectrum will establish the national responsible camp that chooses with open eyes and without fear the just vision for Israel, and is ready to fight diligently to achieve it.”
“Netanyahu’s leadership, pessimistic, passive, fearful, and victimizing has run its course. A leadership that brings division and incitement has slid on a dark nationalistic slope, filled with fear-mongering. We must not allow the destruction of the Zionist project. History will not forgive us if we are unable to stop this reincarnation of blind Jewish zealousness…Only a collaborative organization that would put in its center a young leadership, strong and filled with values, and rally around it the best forces within and without the political system will bring a meaningful change the towards which Israel marches,” he added.
The Likud said in response to the remarks, “Ehud Barak sounds like a broken record. This is the most failed Prime Minister in the history of the state of Israel, and no tweet will cause that fact to be forgotten by the people of Israel, who chose to throw him out of public life with a one-way ticket.”
“The citizens of Israel repeatedly support Prime Minister Netanyahu, who fortifies the country’s security, assures its future and brings it to economic prosperity and political prosperity that we have not known since the establishment of the state. No nonsense from Barak will distort this reality,” the Likud added.
Barak has continuously attacked Netanyahu’s government, having recently accused it of leading towards a reality of one state with an Arab majority.
He previously attacked Netanyahu on Twitter and called him “a deceptive and cowardly Prime Minister”, following reports that Netanyahu rejected a document about a regional peace initiative.
And, in another interview, Barak charged that Netanyahu had been “kidnapped by right-wing settlers”.
Barak, who then served as Netanyahu’s Defense Minister, left the Labor party in 2011 in order to form the Independence party. It is unclear whether he still has political aspirations, though recent reports indicated that he had tried – unsuccessfully – to convince other candidates withdraw from the race for the Labor leadership and support him.