Defense Minister Ehud Barak is under fire over a comment he made during an interview with PBS' Charlie Rose on Wednesday. Asked by Rose whether he would strive for nuclear weapons had he been in Iran's shoes, Barak said, "Probably…I don't delude myself that they are doing it just because of Israel ."
Many Knesset members were critical of "chatter causing damage to Israel" after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed ministers not to publically address the Iran issue.
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'Barak compromised state security'
"The defense minister's excessive chatter reflects irresponsibility and causes damage to Israel's ability to thwart the Iranian nuclear threat," MK Zvulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi) said. Orlev called on Netanyahu to "put Barak in his place and order complete silence on the Iran issue."
Major-General (res.) Oren Shahar said, "It's obvious we must under no circumstance say we understand Iran's need to arm itself with nuclear weapons, because understanding means legitimizing Iran's armament – something we must strongly condemn."
'What's going on with Barak?'
Kadima members were surprised to learn that Barak was the one leading the Iran media frenzy. "Barak is leading the Israeli chatter on Iran and this hurts Israel," MK Yosel Hasson said. "It's astonishing to see him act as a commentator and a bystander and not as the person responsible for the security of Israeli citizens. Acting as commentator will not dismiss him of responsibility for so many government failures."
Hasson also addressed a previous controversial comment by Barak who once said that if he were a Palestinian of the right age he would join resistance groups. "Barak, who once sympathized with the average Palestinian and failed to curb the second intifada is causing us to question his abilities vis-à-vis the Iranian nuclear program," Hasson said.
Meretz faction chairman MK Ilan Ghilon remarked sarcastically, "I don't know what's going on with Barak. If he were a Palestinian he would join Hamas, if he were Iranian he would develop nukes. Lucky he's not an Israeli or he would want to become defense minister."
Members of the coalition were also baffled by Barak's statements. "Minister Barak did not mean it but many could deduce from it that the Iranian nuclear program is legitimate," MK Carmel Shama-Hacohen (Likud) said.
Mk Miri Regev said, "This issue should only come up in the appropriate defense forums."
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