Knesset Defense Committee Scrubs Session With Shin Bet Chief Over 'Leaks'

In a letter to Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee members, chair says numerous details from recent classified hearings appeared in the media.

Emil Salman

Citing “unauthorized leaks to the media,” Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Tzachi Hanegbi canceled Monday a session with Shin Bet security service head Yoram Cohen slated for later this month to discuss the possible collapse of the Palestinian Authority.

In a letter to committee members, Hanegbi noted that numerous details from two recent “privileged and classified hearings” — one with and one with Military Intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Herzl Halevi — had appeared in the media.

Details from both sessions first appeared in Haaretz. In one, Israeli Ambassador to Russia Zvi Heifetz said Moscow had promised Israel that its forces in Syria were not supply transferring weapons to Hezbollah.

In the second case, Halevi warned that the continuing deterioration of Gaza’s economic and humanitarian situation was liable to cause an explosion of violence.

These leaks greatly embarrassed Hanegbi, because before the session with Halevi he had declared to reporters that, unlike meetings of the security cabinet, from the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee there were never any leaks.

“I view this phenomenon as very grave,” Hanegbi wrote to the MKs in his letter, a copy of which was leaked to Haaretz.

“It first and foremost undermines the ability of the committee’s guests to share all the necessary information with its members so as to assure proper and close parliamentary oversight.”

Hanegbi told the MKs that he would instead have Cohen address the committee’s subcommittee on intelligence and secret services, a more limited forum from which information is rarely leaked. The discussion with the Shin Bet head on the PA’s situation is expected to be politically charged.