Netanyahu, the serial violator of Israeli gag orders
Senior Haaretz analyst Amir Oren says Netanyahu's outrage over leaks from the security cabinet is laughable in light of Netanyahu's own leaks over the attack on a nuclear reactor in Syria.
On this night, five years ago, the Israeli Air Force successfully attacked a nuclear reactor that was being built in eastern Syria. According to American officials, the preparations for the attack were accompanied by concerns over any kind of Syrian response, assuming that while Bashar Assad may forgive the destruction of the reactors, he would not be so forgiving over his pride. Thus, the media made sure to refrain from officially attributing the strike to Israel. That is, until then-opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu came along and, in a television interview, came and showed, ostensibly, that he is in on the secret.
Netanyahu is a serial violator of gag orders. He is not necessarily responsible for leaks, at least not in the customary sense of "anonymous contributions." Netanyahu usually says his piece openly. It started in 1995, with the Shtauber document," during the height of negotiations between Washington and both the Israeli and Syrian general staffs, respectively, which revealed to all – and most of all to Damascus – the Israeli strategy for negotiations. The document was produced by Israel's General Staff, specifically by the head of the Strategic Planning Department Brig. Gen. Zvi Shtauber, to give to former IDF Chief of Staff Amnon Lipkin-Shahak. This was not, heaven forbid, a leak. It was exposed in the Knesset, followed by full publication in the media.
Two years later, while serving as the prime minister who approved the failed operation to assassinate Khaled Mashal, Netanyahu summoned Arthur Finkelstein, a foreign national, for emergency consulting over the political and media crisis that ensued. After an Israeli complained to the attorney general that Finkelstein was privy to top secret information, the attorney general's bureau responded that there were no witnesses to support such a claim, after Netanyahu denied that Finkelstein ever heard or saw any classified material. Back then, two High Court justices, Elyakim Rubinstein (the attorney general at the time) and Noam Solberg (Rubinstein's aid), were part of the that bureau.
Last week, Netanyahu was the main guest at a memorial event for a Druze officer from Sayeret Matkal (General Staff Reconnaissance Unit) Salim Shufi. The event was funded by the Mifal Hapyis national lottery and suited the centrists of the Likud party. Veteran officers of the unit could not believe their ears when Netanyahu described the intelligence operations across the Syrian border. And although they took place 40 years ago, such descriptions go against the Sayeret Matkal protocol. As opposed to "Operation Entebbe," the kinds of operations described by Netanyahu are not to be spoken of.
Had a junior soldier or journalist let this kind of information out, he would have been tried for breach of security. The IDF, however, is refraining from a confrontation with the prime minister.
Of course, all this took place before finding out what Netanyahu said about Iran, and which secrets he passed on, with the help of National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror, in his attempt to lobby Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, a man who has never undergone security clearance, to support Netanyahu's stance.
Even if Casanova publicly condemned the adulterers, the joke would not have been funnier – or sadder – than Netanyahu's outrage over what was published in the wake of the discussion in the security cabinet earlier today.
Not a single security-related secret was leaked. Reports only stated that intelligence sources presented their estimations, which are not necessarily identical to one another, nor to the estimations that Netanyahu is trying to sell to foreigners, whether in private conversations or open declarations. The real secrets are not intelligence-related but operational – not the Iranian threat but the Israeli response.
It would be severe of Netanyahu to try and distort the nuances of the Israel's intelligence estimations in order to use a fixed-up version for his own purposes. If he is making an effort to build a claim against bringing the decision of an attack on Iran to the government or the Ministerial Committee on Security Affairs, this is no less severe. But this is Netanyahu's custom – to blame the other, claiming he does what Netanyahu allows himself to do.On this night, five years ago, the Israeli Air Force successfully attacked a nuclear reactor that was being built in eastern Syria. According to American officials, the preparations for the attack were accompanied by concerns over any kind of Syrian response, assuming that while Bashar Assad may forgive the destruction of the reactors, he would not be so forgiving over his pride. Thus, the media made sure to refrain from officially attributing the strike to Israel. That is, until then-opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu came along, and showed in a television interview that he is apparently in on the secret.