They "are interested basically in continuation, extrapolation of the present situation," Ehud Barak told CNN's Christiane Amanpour in an exclusive interview, "which is a one-state, or headed toward a one-state solution, against all the declarations for the opposite."
It is "a hidden agenda" he said, masked by lip service paid to the two-state solution that has long been accepted by the United States and the rest of the international community as the basis for any eventual resolution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
Barak, a former general and chief of the armed services, served as defense minister for nearly six years - first under Ehud Olmert and then four years under Netanyahu. He was prime minister from 1999 to 2001.
"I don't underestimate Netanyahu. He's a serious person; he was elected more than once. He tries to do what he believes is good for Israel."
But, Barak said, he has allowed his party, Likud, to be taken over by "extremists."
As a result, he said, the government has "drifted into a mindset of pessimism, passivity, fear, and victimhood."
Offering a response on behalf of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, spokesman David Keyes placed blame for lack of peace progress on the Palestianians.
"You can't negotiate with yourself," Keyes said.
Netanyahu, he said, has "the greatest of intentions, the most sincerest of desires to engage in peace negotiations," but "the problem is not the Israeli Prime Minister, who is desirous of peace, who constantly calls to the Palestinian leadership to meet and to sit down. The problem is that the other side says no."
'Non-Jewish or non-democratic'
The future suggested by that "hidden" agenda, Barak said, is a bleak one.
"It will end up with one state from the Mediterranean to the River Jordan, with millions of Palestinians within it, which will make it inevitably either non-Jewish or non-democratic."
If "those Palestinians can vote to the Knesset, it will become binational state overnight and within a generation or so, [a] binational state with Muslim majority and probably a civil war between its two different peoples."
'Cheapening of the Holocaust'
Barak did not limit his harsh words to policy toward the Palestinians.
Israeli leaders, he said, have painted a false picture of Israel constantly at the brink of destruction, facing down existential threats on par with the Holocaust.
Last year, speaking to the U.S. Congress, Netanyahu said "Iran's regime is not merely a Jewish problem, any more than the Nazi regime was merely a Jewish problem."
"The 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis," Netanyahu said, "were but a fraction of the 60 million people killed in World War II. So, too, Iran's regime poses a grave threat, not only to Israel, but also the peace of the entire world."
Barak was sanguine.
"With all respect, due respect to the Iranians - and I was probably more hawkish than Netanyahu about this issue - none of the threats that are described as the Hitler du Jour is an existential threat to Israel anymore."
It is, he said, a "cheapening of the Holocaust."
"Take, for example, ISIS."
"ISIS is very effective in throwing fear, or terror, in Brussels or Paris or Nice or even on American soil. But, basically they are helpless vis-a-vis the IDF. They can do nothing. They're 50,000 people riding on Toyota pickups with World War II machine guns. It's not a threat to Israel."
The most pressing threat, he told Amanpour, was the slip toward a one-state reality.
"One-state nation cuts under the very foundations of the Zionist dream and project."