Netanyahu Urges Barak, Ashkenazi Not to Let Tensions Compromise Israel's Security

After weeks of silence on Galant document, PM finally weighs in.

After keeping quiet for days on the Galant document, which has sent shock waves through the security establishment, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the matter yesterday with Defense Minister Ehud Barak and IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi. He asked the pair to stop dealing with the matter and to not allow any tension between them to impinge on their work.

"Top officers in the Israel Defense Forces should stop dealing with the [Galant document] investigation," Netanyahu said in a statement disseminated by his office. "I expect senior army and security officials to continue to work together to ensure Israel's security."

Nir Keidar

According to Netanyahu's office, the prime minister spoke with Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein yesterday over the phone, asking him to try to accelerate the police investigation of the Galant document.

Two weeks ago, a day after Channel 2 News exposed the document, Netanyahu released a statement calling on the attorney general to ask the police to investigate the document. At the time, the document's authorship was attributed to GOC Southern Command Yoav Galant and his confidantes.

Looking for a response

Since then, police have questioned Ashkenazi, other top IDF officers and senior Defense Ministry officials. The affair has turned into a hot topic within the IDF and the security establishment, with the controversy surrounding it threatening to paralyze top officials.

Yesterday morning the prime minister's office was flooded with questions from the media as journalists sought a response from Netanyahu on the affair.

According to sources, Ashkenazi met with the prime minister a few weeks ago, at which time he warned him of Barak's intention to initiate a series of early interviews with candidates for the post of IDF chief of staff. Netanyahu's advisers deny reports of this meeting between the prime minister and Ashkenazi.

Meanwhile, sources close to the prime minister say that while Netanyahu did, in fact, meet with Ashkenazi several weeks ago - a meeting which they say was transcribed - the issue of any tensions with the defense minister did not come up, nor was there mention of any sort of document connected to the chief of staff appointment.

Netanyahu's meeting yesterday with Barak primarily addressed tensions between the latter and Ashkenazi. The prime minister asked the defense minister to act quickly to allay these strains.

Netanyahu stressed that any issues between Barak and Ashkenazi must not be allowed to compromise Israel's security. The prime minister relayed a similar message to Ashkenazi during a telephone conversation. The two are to hold a private meeting some time in the next few days.