Gil Messing withdraws as next IDF Spokesperson

Gil Messing helped to gather evidence in a major corruption case against Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu Party five years ago, according to a report in Haaretz.

May 13, 2019 02:57
2 minute read.
Gil Messing withdraws as next IDF Spokesperson

New IDF Spoksperson Gil Messing will begin his service in a few months. (photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)

Less than a month after the Israeli military announced that Gil Messing would serve as the next IDF spokesperson, he has asked to cancel his appointment after being exposed as a police agent in a 2015 corruption investigation against the Yisrael Beytenu Party.

In a letter sent to Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, Messing asked to cancel his appointment, saying that after his nomination, “a wild witch hunt, full of lies and manipulations, began that tried to tarnish my name and motivations.”

While “it was made clear that there was nothing wrong in my personal conduct... I could not, and will not, stand idly by as these efforts are directed against me, my family, the chief of staff and the IDF,” he wrote.

In late April, the military announced that Messing would succeed Brig.-Gen. Ronen Manelis as IDF spokesperson, a nomination that had been approved by Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The next day, Haaretz revealed that Messing acted as a police agent who helped gather evidence in a corruption case against Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu Party five years ago.

“Messing, who was not a suspect in the case himself, presented himself as someone seeking to help his friend in his time of need. But he was actually helping the police obtain incriminating evidence, at their request,” the Haaretz report said.

The Ynet news site reported the following day that Messing had also spied on several other officials in the three-year-long investigation, known as Case 242, including former defense minister Liberman.

In a statement released by the IDF, Kochavi said that he “regretfully” accepted Messing’s request and understood the circumstances behind his decision.

“The chief of the general staff noted that Mr. Messing  was chosen for the position in light of him being a highly valued person, with a wide range of professional experience,” the statement said, adding Messing’s “vast experience and abilities could have contributed greatly to the IDF and to the spokesman’s office.”

The statement added that “Messing was nominated for being an extremely ethical person, with great, diverse professional experience,” and that “assistance to law enforcement and state institutions is part of Israelis’ civic duties.”

The 35-year-old father of two from Tel Aviv served several roles in the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit from 2001 to 2006, from the unit’s international media branch to being Kochavi’s spokesman when he was the commander of the Gaza Division from 2004 to 2006 and during the disengagement from the Gaza Strip.

After leaving the IDF in 2006, Messing served in several senior public relations positions, including as the former adviser and spokesperson to Tzipi Livni between 2007-2012, while she was vice prime minister, foreign minister and leader of the opposition.

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