AG Probes Netanyahu Adviser's Possible Conflict of Interest

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Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein is examining national security adviser, Maj. Gen. (res.) Ya'akov Amidror's possible involvement in cabinet discussions related to the natural gas market, even though he had been barred from such discussions.

Amidror's previously served, for a couple of months, as an adviser to Noble Energy, a U.S.-based company with major stakes in Israel's natural gas exploration and production at the offshore Tethys Sea, Tamar and Leviathan drilling sites.

Netanyahu appointed Amidror as his adviser two years ago; since then he has been considered among the prime minister's closest confidants, however his intention to resign was reported on Sunday. His departure was attributed to contention between Amidror and Netanyahu over criticism in right-wing circles of the former's public remarks on diplomatic and security issues.

When Amidror assumed his post, he was prohibited from dealing with matters involving the natural gas industry to avoid a conflict of interest. As a result, for example, his spot on the official Tzemach committee, which looked into the extent to which Israel's gas reserves should be reserved for local consumption, was filled by Amidror's deputy, Avriel Bar-Yosef.

Responding to an inquiry from Haaretz over the matter, the Justice Ministry made the following statement: "Information has been received by the attorney general regarding the alleged involvement of Amidror on the subject of energy. The attorney general sought Amidror's response to this information in light of the conflict of interest agreement that Amidror signed upon assuming office. Amidror provided his response. The matter is currently being looked into by the Justice Ministry so that the attorney general can come to a position on the matter."

As far as is known, Weinstein is focusing on Amidror's alleged involvement in cabinet discussions in recent months on the natural gas issue after the Tzemach committee wrapped up its work. According to the committee's minutes, the national security office which Amidror headed had been asked to provide its stance on geopolitical aspects of gas exports, particularly where the natural gas export facilities should be located. The national security staff insisted during the committee's meetings that export facilities should be built only in locations under Israeli control. 

Ya'akov Amidror.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

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