Ehud Barak’s biographer leaked interview tapes about Iran strikes following rights dispute

Gabe Friedman

(JTA) — A biographer of Ehud Barak said he leaked videotapes of the former Israeli prime minister talking about possible Israeli strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities following a dispute over the book’s English-language rights.

Ilan Kfir, who co-wrote the biography with Danny Dor, gave over 100 hours of the interview footage to Israeli media outlets after he said Barak reneged on a promise to give the writers the English-language rights.

The tapes, which detail three allegedly planned strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities, have made headlines in Israel since last Friday, when the first recording aired on Israel’s Channel 2. Throughout the recordings, which aired on Channel 2 on Sunday night and Monday, Barak placed blame on various Israeli officials — notably the army’s former chief of staff, Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, and then Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe Yaalon — for Israel’s failure to bomb the nuclear facilities in 2010 and 2011.

In a section of the tapes released Monday, Barak said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had opposed the 2011 Palestinian prisoner release that freed Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who had been imprisoned by Hamas in Gaza. Barak described Netanyahu as “childish to an embarrassing degree” in exploiting Shalit’s release for the prime minister’s own publicity purposes, the Times of Israel reported.

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Kfir and Dor said that Barak signed with a publisher in the United States to produce a different version of the biography for American audiences.

“It was clear that our book would serve as the basis for his [English] biography,” Kfir told Israeli Army Radio on Sunday. “But Barak, being Barak, took an irrational path, a skewed path, and decided to act like he did. We have an interest in promoting the book. It’s not his book, it’s ours. The recordings are our property.”

Barak, who tried to bar the interviews from airing on television, could be angling to make a political comeback, The Associated Press reported. He was the last leader of the center-left Labor Party to be prime minister, from 1999 to 2001, and served as defense minister under Netanyahu from 2007 to 2013.

“I imagine he would like to return to politics,” Israeli commentator Rina Mazliach told Channel 2 on Friday.

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