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