Knesset Blocks WikiLeaks Debate

Governing body rejects request for session on leaked U.S. diplomatic cables and their consequences for national security.

The Knesset will not hold a debate on WikiLeaks, despite a request by a number of parliamentarians for a session on leaked U.S. cables that has rocked the diplomatic world.

The Knesset Presidium, the body which regulates plenary debates in Israel's parliament, turned down a request from a number of members for a session on the consequences of the leaks for national security.

Knesset session, May 3, 2010

Among the WikiLeaks disclosures were an Israeli plan to coordinate its 2008 invasion of Gaza with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and details of Israel's covert ties with governments in the United Arab Emirates.

In response to the Presidium's decision, Aryeh Eldad MK (National Union) claimed the Knesset risked making itself irrelevant in Israeli public life by shying away from the most pressing issues on the national agenda.

"Any Israel officials who find themselves in a meeting with American counterparts tomorrow will have to take into account the prospect that the contents of discussions will be leaked onto the net," Eldad said.

He added: "Has Israel changed the way it briefs its diplomats between yesterday and today? A massive earthquake is shaking international relations, yet still the coalition prefers to bury its head in the sand by refusing to debate the issue."

Knesset officials confirmed that there were as yet no plans for a WikiLeaks debate.

"The scale of the episode and its implications for the Israeli government are not yet clear and it is therefore too early for a plenary debate," one senior official told Haaretz.

But a session on the leaks had not been ruled out and could take place as early as next week, the official said.