Liberman bans MKs from hearing classified information

Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense committee chairman sends scathing letter to MKs after contents of meeting with Shin Bet chief leaked to media.

June 6, 2013 20:21
2 minute read.
Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon and FADC chairman MK Avigdor Liberman

Yaalon and Liberman 370. (photo credit: Ariel Hermony/Defense Ministry)

Members of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee are to no longer receive classified information, after the contents of this week’s meeting with Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) chief Yoram Cohen were leaked to the media.

Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Avigdor Liberman sent a scathing letter to MKs on the panel Thursday. He said from now on the meetings will be “open,” in which non-confidential details are relayed, and the media is informed of their contents.

“Last Tuesday, there was a confidential meeting with the head of the Shin Bet Yoram Cohen. At the beginning and during the meeting, I repeated and emphasized that according to Knesset regulations, details from the meeting cannot be passed to anyone outside the meeting,” Liberman wrote.

“Despite this, the next day the top headline in Ma’ariv was an article that purported to quote the head of the Shin Bet as saying the president of the Palestinian Authority does not believe in a peace treaty with Israel.”

According to the article in Ma’ariv Wednesday, the PA’s faith in talks with Israel is on the decline, because this government is not willing to come close to former prime minister Ehud Olmert’s promises in negotiations.

“From many years of experience in the Knesset and my familiarity with those working here, and in light of what MKs said in the meeting and the twisted version [of the events] that was passed on to the media, it is obvious to me who stands behind the leak, and I find it unfortunate that he harmed the committee’s work and the Knesset’s good name,” Liberman wrote.

Liberman added that when he took the helm of the committee, MKs complained to him that meetings have turned into a “press briefing” and that the security officials do not share significant details.

In previous Knessets, most Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meetings were closed to the press, but the committee spokesman would hold a briefing for reporters together with an IDF censor.

Journalists would sit outside the committee room during the meetings, and MKs coming in and out would give details of what happened.

Since Liberman became chairman, reporters are sent short summaries of some of the meetings, rather than inperson briefings on all of them, giving them fewer opportunities to ask questions and learn more details about the meetings.

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