IDF Chief Under Fire After Meeting Former PM Barak

Former Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ehud Barak (Flash90)

The office of IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot denied any impropriety in a meeting he held with former Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, currently a vociferous critic of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, The Times of Israel reported on Tuesday.

Eisenkot went to Barak’s Tel Aviv apartment, a short distance from Defense Ministry headquarters a day prior to a warning issued by his host that Netanyahu’s policies, which he said are calculated to destroy any prospect of a two-state solution, could cause mass insubordination in the army.

“The most right-wing government in history will cause civil opposition and disobeying of orders by senior IDF officers,” Barak said at the annual Banana Festival in the Jordan Valley.

The criticism included at least one suggestion that the army chief should resign over it.

“There is no reason whatsoever that he went up to his apartment,” political analyst Itamar Fleishman told Channel 20. “I can’t understand how Eisenkot is still chief of staff after this meeting.”

In a Haaretz op-ed, Amos Harel said the disclosure “leaves one with an uneasy feeling,” and that “it would have been better if someone close to him had turned on a red light beforehand.” He called the meeting a “political mistake.”

The army said there was nothing wrong with it.

“The meeting was one of many routine meetings that the chief of staff has held since he entered the post with former chiefs of staff and senior reserve officers on a range of topics relating to the army and security,” the IDF spokesperson said in response.

Barak himself said that the meeting had dealt “only with security issues,” and that it had “no connection whatsoever” to his speech at the Banana Festival.”

The Prime Minister’s Office and the Likud party spokesperson declined to comment.