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Although a letter from MKs calling for a Knesset hearing to examine how tensions between the National Security Council and the Defense Ministry and the IDF impacted Israel’s response to the Gaza flotilla seemed unlikely to bear fruit Thursday, Knesset officials confirmed that a hearing was scheduled next Tuesday to discuss the state of the troubled NSC.
MKs Aryeh Eldad (National Union), Yohanan Plesner (Kadima) and Eitan Cabel (Labor) asked Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman MK Tzahi Hanegbi (Kadima) to summon the IDF’s representative to the government, Maj.-Gen. Yohanan Locker, to testify before the secretive committee. The MKs’ letter expressed concern following reports that neither the IDF nor the Defense Ministry had agreed to send representatives to NSC hearings on the flotilla before the ships approached Israel’s shores.
One of the main goals of establishing the NSC, at least on paper, was to create a body that would coordinate security strategy among various organizations – including the Defense Ministry and the IDF, in addition to the Shin Bet and the Mossad – as well as government agencies related to foreign policy.
Despite the advance warning on the Gaza flotilla, the NSC only had its first meeting on the subject less than two weeks before the ships arrived, and even then, the consultations were held without key participants.
Initial assessments of the decision-making process leading up to Israel’s response to the flotilla indicated that the NSC was not a key player. The probes into the Gaza flotilla are expected to examine the role played by the organization.
Earlier this week, published reports said NSC head Uzi Arad was slated
to resign in protest of the minor role played by the organization,
which is supposed to be the central factor in coordinating government
security policy. Arad and Locker have reportedly been squabbling for
months about the levels of authority of their respective positions.
Although all reports of Arad’s resignation were hotly denied, the
allegation brought to the surface heightened tensions within top levels
of Israel’s strategic planning.
Hanegbi was reluctant to schedule a special meeting to discuss the
subject, said MKs, but a previously scheduled meeting of the
Subcommittee for Security Services on Tuesday – which will be the
subcommittee’s fourth consecutive meeting on the NSC – is likely to
discuss some of this week’s claims during an unusual open-door session.