Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu silenced Shin Bet security service head Yuval Diskin as Diskin was making a presentation during Sunday's cabinet meeting on intelligence matters, which included references to Palestinian attitudes to Israel and the possible renewal of the peace process.

"First focus on your issues and give an intelligence report. The diplomatic arena is not the responsibility of the Shin Bet, but of the national security adviser," Netanyahu told Diskin.

"Sir, in the past we also refered to these issues. If you want it to be different, it will be different," Diskin said to Netanyahu, cutting his presentation short.

Ministers present at the meeting told Haaretz Diskin appeared embarrassed by the incident, particularly because the national security adviser, Uzi Arad, was sitting nearby.

Netanyahu's rebuke apparently stemmed from a request by Arad, who has feuded with a number of senior defense officials over the past few months. Two weeks ago, when Arad headed a delegation to Washington to discuss the Iranian nuclear program, he quarreled with a senior Mossad official at his meetings. Senior officials at Military Intelligence also say he is difficult to work with.

The Prime Minister's Office issued a statement Monday morning saying that Arad did not ask the prime minister to censure Diskin. The statement said furthermore that Arad maintains good cooperative relations with all the senior defense officials, especially the director of the Shin Bet.

Diskin told the cabinet Hamas rhetoric had changed somewhat in recent weeks. "Public statements by leaders attest to efforts by Hamas to appear interested in ending the conflict with Israel, based on the model of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders in exchange for a long-term hudnah [cease-fire]," Diskin said before Netanyahu silenced him. "This doesn't mean they have abandoned ideological principles. Hamas is turning to the diplomatic sphere to challenge exclusive control by Abu Mazen," Diskin said, refering to PA President Mahmoud Abbas.