Deputy Foreign Minister Orders Inquest Into Who Leaked 'Gatekeepers' Cables

Zeev Elkin, in his third order of business on the job, demands that the Foreign Ministry examine the diplomatic cables that circled around the globe in response to the controversial Oscar-nominated documentary.

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Israel's new deputy foreign minister has ordered an investigation into who leaked diplomatic cables sent about the Oscar-nominated documentary "The Gatekeepers."

"The Gatekeepers," which features candid – and sometimes damning – interviews with all six surviving heads of the Shin Bet security service, caused a stir among Israeli officials, with many of them accusing the film of being anti-Israel and some going so far as to call for a boycott.

Zeev Elkin, who only recently assumed his new post, ordered the probe following a report in Haaretz last week of leaked cables, which provided a snapshot of the divided opinion of the film within the ministry. The cables were not classified and the information they contained was not considered a threat to national security, but Elkin nevertheless ordered that they be examined.

The Haaretz report was published on March 20. That same day, at the ministry's first management committee meeting following the installation of the new Israeli government, Elkin instructed Ministry Director General Rafael Barak to open the investigation.

When it comes to leaks of confidential information of this nature, it is usually the Shin Bet that conducts the investigation, but since the leak was of unclassified material, the probe was entrusted to the internal comptroller at the Foreign Ministry, Jacob Keidar.

The Haaretz article cited several diplomatic cables exchanged between the ministry offices in Jerusalem and diplomatic missions around the world over how to handle the film. Some of the diplomats involved wrote that the film was harming Israel's image and creating public relations issues for them. Others, however, said that the movie actually bolstered Israel's image as a thriving democracy, open to internal criticism.

According to a Foreign Ministry source, Keidar swung into action, holding discussions with a number of ministry employees about the leak even before the Passover holiday began on Monday.

Other sources within the ministry, however, have their reservations about the inquest, with one staffer saying, "Keidar is conducting the investigation like someone was forced into it."

The ordering of the investigation was Elkin's third piece of business in his new job. One ministry source said that by looking into the leak, Elkin is trying to demonstrate leadership and show his staff "who's the boss."

Former heads of the Shin Bet in 'The Gatekeepers.' Clockwise from top left: Jacob Perry, Avraham Shalom, Avi Dichter and Yuval Diskin.Credit: Screenshot
MK Ze'ev ElkinCredit: Ofer Vaknin