Weinstein Orders Examination of Recordings From Ehud Barak’s Bureau

Police and security officials will examine the recordings to determine whether they have any bearing on the so-called Harpaz Affair.

Revital Hovel
Revital Hovel
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Former Defense Minister Ehud Barak and ex-IDF Chief Gabi Ashkenazi
Former Defense Minister Ehud Barak and ex-IDF Chief Gabi AshkenaziCredit: Archive / Alon Ron
Revital Hovel
Revital Hovel

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein on Sunday ordered a preliminary examination of recently-discovered DVDs which are believed to contain recordings of conversations in the bureau of former defense minister Ehud Barak.

At the end of a meeting about the topic, Weinstein instructed that the discs be examined for material connected to the so-called Harpaz Affair, in which former IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and some associates reportedly tried to block Barak’s appointment of Ashkenazi’s replacement.

The recordings have yet to be listened to and their content is unknown. The preliminary examination will be done by a team of police officers and security officials, in case the recordings contain state secrets.

The recording were found several days ago in a safe in the office of a former defense ministry security officer, according to a report by Channel Two TV last week. “It is true that several DVDs were found in the safe of a security coordinator who no longer works at the ministry,” a defense ministry official said. “The content of the discs is not clear as yet. The defense establishment’s legal counsel has instructed that the discs be deposited in his safe so that they can be examined.”

Ashkenazi demanded during the Harpaz investigation that the possibility that recordings of calls from Barak’s bureau had been erased be investigated. Bureau officials denied that they had been erased deliberately, claiming that they had been damaged for some unclarified reason.

An internal defense ministry investigation, headed by then-deputy director general Shlomi Maayan, found that the recordings had been damaged in a technical mishap. Equipment for recording calls was installed in the bureaus of both the defense minister and the chief of staff in 2006. But while all calls made from the bureau of the chief of staff were recorded, only operational calls from the defense minister’s bureau were recorded.

In an interview on Channel One two days ago, Barak said that if the recorded discussions were noted in the bureau’s written documentations, they would be “legitimate conversations” attesting to proper conduct. Otherwise, he said, the ministry would need to investigate who made them.

“It is very sad to see the extent to which the behavior of the former chief of staff and his associates degenerated,” Barak said. “Borderline criminality – the police might say amongst themselves – in order to achieve aims that are illegitimate in a democracy. Those are things that belong in the Third World.”

Barak accused two senior defense officials – Amir Kin, currently head of physical security for the defense establishment, and Avichai Mendelblit, currently cabinet secretary and previously the military Judge Advocate General – of collaborating with Ashkenazi.

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