amir peretz 224.88.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
A political appointee of Defense Minister Amir Peretz who currently serves in a key position in the Defense Ministry is suspected of assisting the United States in drafting the Benchmarks Security Plan presented recently to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, according to sources in the Defense Ministry.
Over the weekend, Peretz ordered Yehiel Horev, the head of the "Malmab" security branch in the Defense Ministry, to investigate the possibility that the official - who serves as an adviser to Peretz - assisted the Americans in formulating the plan and even leaked sensitive security information to them.
Israeli defense officials said that the plan - which was drafted by US Security Coordinator Maj.-Gen. Keith Dayton and Ambassador to Israel Richard Jones - could not have been written without the assistance of an Israeli source familiar with the material.
The plan stipulates benchmark dates for when its clauses should be implemented. It calls on Israel to allow the supply of weapons and ammunition to security forces under control of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, as well as to lift roadblocks in the West Bank and allow for free passage between Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip.
In return, the PA is required to stop Kassam rocket attacks as well as prevent arms smuggling along the Philadelphi Corridor in the southern Gaza Strip.
Defense Ministry officials said that Peretz's decision to appoint the official to his current post when he took office in May 2006 was surprising since the official did not have an extensive military or diplomatic background like his predecessor in the post.
In response, Peretz's office issued a statement claiming that the official's appointment as Peretz's adviser was approved by a Defense Ministry committee that oversees appointments.