Amidror characterizes as 'libelous' report he quit amid conflict of interest suspicions

National Security Council head denies he quit due to probe into his part in discussions of natural gas exports.

June 25, 2013 20:29
2 minute read.
Former NSC head Ya'acov Amidror

Amidror 311. (photo credit: Nisim Lev)

National Security Council head Yaakov Amidror dismissed as a “libelous lie” a Haaretz story Tuesday that he quit his position stemming from a conflict of interest related to the government’s decisions regarding Israel’s natural gas reserves.

According to the report, the Justice Ministry is looking into whether Amidror took part in recent government discussions on how much natural gas to export, even though he was prohibited – because he worked a few months in the past as an adviser to Noble Energy – from dealing with issues related to natural gas.

Noble Energy is a US firm with a major stake in exploring and developing Israel’s off-shore natural gas sites.

“First, I did not quit my job,” Amidror said in a statement.

“Secondly, I did not take part in Tzemach Committee discussions [on the future of the country’s gas economy] and the position of the National Security Council on the matter was taken without my participation.”

Amidror added that he did not deal with matters pertaining to any private companies regarding the gas issue, and that his only involvement in the natural gas debate concerned diplomatic/security aspects that were not in variance with the conflict of interest agreement he signed when taking office.

The Prime Minister’s Office also issued a strong denial, saying there was no connection at all between the date Amidror will leave office and suspicion of a conflict of interest.

The statement said the date for Amidror’s leaving his position – at the end of the year – was agreed upon when he took over the post in March 2011.

Rumors that Amidror was quitting early began Sunday with a Ma’ariv piece intimating that his departure had to do with policy disagreements with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Since Ron Dermer left the Prime Minister’s Office in March, Amidror has served not only as head of the National Security Council, but also as Netanyahu’s top foreign policy advisor. He has also emerged as one of his closest confidants.

Amidror was appointed in 2011 to replace Uzi Arad, and was originally slated to remain in the position until the elections, which were scheduled for November 2013 but moved up to January.

Amidror has already served longer in the position of NSC head than most of his predecessors, including Ephraim Halevi, Giora Eiland, Ilan Mizrachi and Arad.

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