No Charges to Be Filed Against Ehud Barak Over Iran Tapes, Israeli Attorney General Says

Weinstein says statements made to biographers about past possibilities of attacking Iran had been approved by military censor and had not damaged state security.

Daniel Tchetchik

Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak will not be charged with passing classified information to his biographers, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein announced Tuesday. He said the statements Barak made to his biographers about possibilities in the past of attacking Iran had been approved by the military censor and had not damaged state security.

Complaints were filed with the police against Barak in August after tapes were broadcast on Channel 2 of conversations the former prime minister had with Ilan Kfir and Dani Dor, the authors of the biography.

In the tapes, Barak was heard telling his biographers about cabinet discussions having to do with a possible attack on Iran about five years ago. Barak said he and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were in favor of an attack while Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and then-Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz were against it. Barak said with regard to a decisive meeting in 2011 that the meeting was held after Netanyahu had told Barak and then-Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman that Ya’alon and Steinitz supported the idea.

“The chief of staff presented the matter, the difficulties, the complications and the problems, including the possibility of casualties and you see before your very eyes how both Bogie [Ya’alon] and Steinitz melt. You see the responses to the questions between us on their faces,” Barak said.

“If Bogie and Steinitz hadn’t changed their opinion, then a situation would have been created in which there would have been a majority of five or six out of the cabinet who think it’s possible to do it, and then we might have called the cabinet itself to decide, and then there would have been an operation,” Barak said.

Barak is also heard saying in the tapes that in 2010, the leading opposition to an attack on Iran came from then-IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi.

Following a High Court of Justice petition, the court instructed Weinstein to explain why he had not investigated the matter within a month. Weinstein explained that there had been no reason to investigate because the Channel 2 report had been submitted to the censor and been approved for release, and the censor informed the State Prosecutor’s Office that nothing in the material published constituted “real damage to state security, because the information did not go into operational levels, but rather touched on positions in principle expressed on the issue.”

Nevertheless, Weinstein noted that there was a “defect in the transmission of information by a former minister from cabinet meetings to ghost writers and reporters, without approval, even if the condition for publication was approval by the censor.” Weinstein therefore instructed that a committee be established to recommend a system-wide directive in such cases, to be headed by deputy attorney general Dina Zilber.