Until less than two months ago Yaakov Amidror, the head of the National Security Council and the prime minister's national security advisor, sat on the boards of several companies of the Ofer Brother Group. The group of companies is suspected of illegal trade with Iran through subsidiaries registered abroad.
Amidror, former head of military colleges in the Israel Defense Forces and of the research department of Military Intelligence, was appointed to the board of the Israel Corporation, which is controlled by brothers Sami and Idan Ofer, in early 2007. Amidror also served on the boards of several other Ofer-controlled companies, including two subsidiaries of Zim Integrated Shipping Services. Board members of these companies are usually paid several thousand shekels for each meeting, adding up to tens of thousands of shekels per year. Amidror resigned from all the Ofer companies less then two months ago, when he was appointed to the national security positions.
Knesset Finance Committee chairman MK Carmel Shama-Hacohen abruptly adjourned a discussion of the Ofer Brothers Group affair after only 15 minutes, without explanation. (See story, page 2. ) Before adjourning he asked whether a National Security Council representative was in attendance - none was. Shama-Hacohen said he later had sent several questions to the council in writing, including whether there was a committee monitoring trade with Iran and whether other companies are known or thought to be trading with Iran.
"I sat on the board of Zim and Israel Corp, and, to my knowledge, they have nothing to do with this affair," Amidror told Haaretz in response. "I haven't the slightest idea about the Ofer family's other businesses and I didn't ask about it. I'm not handling this affair because I was a board member in a company they control. There was no formal decision on the matter but this is just my common sense. What I myself think about this I'll say to whoever I need to say it to."
As for Shama-Hacohen's query to the National Security Council, Amidror said he left his office around noon, "and did not receive the honorable member's query by that time. If his questions concern the Iranian issue in general I'll gladly answer, but if it's about the Ofer family I won't answer it anyway and the issue will be addressed by other members of the council," Amidror said.
Amidror's appointment to the National Security Council was met with some controversy, after Haaretz reported that a year earlier he had said that any soldier who does not charge the enemy deserves a bullet in the head.
While Amidror's opinions are markedly right-wing, Idan Ofer, has been working in recent years to promote business ventures with the Palestinian Authority.
Amidror was not the only senior security official to have been employed by the Ofer family. In May, Sami and Idan Ofer appointed Pinchas Buchris - former head of MI unit 8200 and a former defense ministry director general - head of Oil Refineries. Former Shin Bet security service head Jacob Perry is also employed by the Ofer brothers, as chairman of the United Mizarahi bank, which is partly owned by Yuli Ofer.
Former GOC Southern Command, Maj. Gen. (res. ) Erez Chaim has served as head of the ICL group, controlled by Israel Corp, and today serves as a board member of Dead Sea Works, also controlled by the Ofer family. He is also a member of the consulting committee on senior civil service appointments. Another board director employed by the family is lawyer Uri Slonim, who has served as advisor on missing and captive IDF soldiers to seven defense ministers.
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