When Defense Minister Ehud Barak earlier Monday announced he does not plan to vie for a slot in the next Knesset, the nation’s news websites had to scrap the prepared texts, remove articles loaded earlier in the day to report the senior cabinet minister has decided to call it quits.
Ynet and other mainstream news sites, as well as their chareidi counterparts reported with a measure of certainty that Barak was going to announce he was stepping down as defense minister [to comply with the law regarding such a case] to join up with Tzipi Livni as they would run together in the next election. It was all but final that Barak and Livni would join forces to create a major bloc against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, but we now know this was not the case. Some analysts say that “significant members of the Livni camp” are opposed to Barak, explaining why the obvious move was not actualized.
There wasn’t a single voice that imagined Barak would be calling it quits, especially with an increase in popularity following Operation Pillar of Defense but that is exactly what happened.
The spin doctors are trying to explain what happened and there are many theories, and undoubtedly more will follow. For one thing, some have labeled the announcement “Independence Day for Likud” as this signals Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that finally, the defense ministry post is freed up, a post that many believe was intended for Vice Premier Moshe Ya’alon, but it had to go to Barak to earn his coalition support, which was needed at the time. Realizing Ya’alon had to be given a respectable post as a former IDF chief of staff, he was appointed vice premier and the ministry of strategic affairs was born, which he heads.
Another theory is that Barak realized his Atzma’ut Party was not going to earn enough seats to become a major player, and at this stage of his career he is not about to accept a junior cabinet appointment. As such, by resigning while popularity polls judge him favorably, he is admired, and he is well aware that if the next prime minister wishes him to serve as defense minister, he can be brought in as a special appointment, which is seen in the case of Justice Minister Prof. Yaakov Ne’eman for example, the justice minister who was never an MK.
When informed of the resignation of Barak Minister of Diaspora Affairs Yuli Edelstein, a resident of Gush Etzion, stated “ברוך שפטרנו”, as Barak’s name has become synonymous with halting construction throughout those areas, dismantling outposts, and simply doing a great deal to hinder services for the growing population of those communities.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)