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Barak ‘driving on rims’ as a 2nd aide resigns

SHARE Barak ‘driving on rims’ as a 2nd aide resigns

JERUSALEM — One of Prime Minister Ehud Barak's top aides resigned Monday, the second confidant to quit in a week amid complaints that the Israeli leader ignores advice and fails to delegate responsibility.

The resignation of Haim Mendel-Shaked, the chief of staff of the prime minister's office, is the latest sign that Barak's government is in trouble.

Last month, Barak lost his parliamentary majority, with hawkish parties quitting the coalition in protest over concessions to the Palestinians in peace talks.

"Ehud Barak is now driving on the rims of his tires; the air has gone out of his tires," commentator Nahum Barnea wrote in the Yediot Ahronot newspaper. "In war, he says, when they shoot your tires, you drive on whatever you have."

Mendel-Shaked had worked closely with Barak for 15 years, serving as his chief adviser when Barak was army chief of staff in the early 1990s.

Mendel-Shaked offered to resign in early summer, but Barak asked him to stay on until the fall. His resignation Monday apparently was triggered by an article in Yediot Ahronot in which he is quoted as saying Barak refused to delegate responsibility and sidestepped his advisers.

"Barak has stopped functioning as a prime minister and turned into his own chief of staff," read a banner headline in the newspaper Monday, next to a picture of Mendel-Shaked.

Another friend from Barak's military days, Shimon Batat, who served as deputy chief of staff in the prime minister's office, resigned last week. Barak's second military secretary, Gadi Eizenkott, is also considering stepping down, Yediot Ahronot said.

A lawmaker of the opposition Likud party, Danny Naveh, said Barak should acknowledge his failures at leadership and resign.

Barak's rule has teetered on the edge of collapse since three coalition parties resigned last month, leaving him with only 42 supporters in the 120-seat parliament.