Israelis today are enjoying a level of security they have not known for years,
the Prime Minister’s Office said yesterday in a statement in response to two
highly censorious state comptroller’s reports of the decision-making process at
the highest level.
One of Micha Lindenstrauss’s reports found that the
government’s decision-making process was slapdash in the the run-up to the May
31, 2010 Mavi Marmara incident, in which nine Turkish citizens were killed in a
clash after Israeli commandos boarded the ship to prevent it from breaking the
Another of the comptroller’s reports found that there were
systematic problems in the government’s overall decision-making process on
national security issues because of the prime minister’s failure to fully
implement the 2008 National Security Council Law.
Appearing to downplay
the report, the Prime Minister’s Office said, “The security Israeli citizens are
enjoying today is a direct result of responsible management and determined
The statement said the security discussions held over the last
three years were “unprecedented in their breadth and depth, and those who
participate will testify to that.”
The comptroller wrote that while
Netanyahu has chaired hundreds of discussions on national security issues, in a
majority of those meetings, the type of staff work needed to prepare for them
properly – as dictated by the National Security Council Law – was not carried
The statement did not address one of the report’s central
complaints, that Netanyahu has not sufficiently implemented the law setting up
the National Security Council, and that his military liaison wields inordinate
influence over a decision-making process that – by law – the NSC should
coordinate and lead.
The brief statement by his office said Netanyahu
wanted to express his “appreciation” for the comptroller’s work.
however, said nothing of a commitment to implement its findings.
say that the Lindenstrauss himself pointed out that there had been “significant
progress” that has considerably enhanced the NSC’s involvement in the
Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s office issued a
curt response, saying that Barak accepted the criticism and would work, as he
has done in the past, to ensure that the defense establishment and the IDF
change what needs to be corrected.
“This is what needs to be done, and
will be done,” he said.
The comptroller painted a picture of a defense
establishment that has a very tight grip not only on how decisions are made, but
also on how Israel presents its message afterward.
Regarding criticism in
the report of the decision-making process leading up to the Mavi Marmara
incident, sources inside the Prime Minister’s Office pointed out that the report
found that even if the decisionmaking process had been different, there was
still no guarantee the outcome would have been any better.
As proof that
the decision- making procedure was not faulty, sources said the same process was
used successfully last year in stopping a Gaza-bound flotilla that set forth
from Greece, and two recent attempts coined “flytillas,”or flying
pro-Palestinian activists into Ben-Gurion Airport.
The report criticized
the prime minister for not holding a security cabinet meeting before the Mavi
incident, and for relying only on an informal meeting of his group of
seven ministers known as the septet. Lindenstrauss noted that Netanyahu held
numerous separate meetings with the defense minister, foreign minister and other
officials, but that these meetings were not suitably planned, and the
proceedings were not adequately documented in a way that would help others also
dealing with the issue.
The sources said that Netanyahu told the
comptroller while he was preparing the report that last year’s Greek flotilla
was stopped without the security cabinet or the NSC’s involvement.
sources also pointed out that the comptroller said there was a great deal of
diplomatic efforts – carried out by the prime minister, defense minister,
foreign minister and others – to keep the flotilla from sailing or from reaching
Netanyahu sent messages through third parties – as pointed out in
the report – to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and received the
impression that there was a “high feasibility” that the flotilla would be
prevented, the sources said. According to the report, Netanyahu was only briefed
a week before the Mavi Marmara
set sail that Erdogan – contrary to the
impression he gave – was not going to stop it.
The National Information
Directorate, which the comptroller also criticized for its handling of the
flotilla incident and for organizational flaws, issued a statement essentially
calling on the public to look at the “half-full” part of the
Since the National Information Directorate was set up five years
ago, its role in the decision-making process has grown, the statement read,
adding that its coordination of the different public diplomacy bodies in the
government is continually improving.
The report strongly criticized the
handling of public diplomacy during the flotilla incident, citing a lack of
centralized coordination, and the IDF Spokesman’s tendency – due to its access
to data and material, and also because of its manpower – to take control of the
According to the National Information Directorate’s
statement, the report emphasized there has been a vast improvement in
coordination since the directorate was established.
pointed out the recognition by the political and diplomatic echelon of the
importance of public diplomacy,” the statement read.
The statement also
pointed out another favorable mention in the report: progress in getting
Israel’s message out on the social media and in Arabic.
with the recommendations, formulation of a comprehensive plan to improve and
correct the information apparatus will be considered,” the statement
In addition, the statement continued, work has already begun on
fixing some of the problems the report highlights.
The Foreign Ministry,
meanwhile, had no comment on the report, which said that its spokesman apparatus
was woefully understaffed.
“We didn’t need this report to tell us that,”
one official quipped.