Senior ministers slam media debate on Tehran

Lieberman says 99% of reports on Iran are false; Begin: Press attention on discussion of possible Iran strike worse than acts of Anat Kamm.

IAF F15s refueling in-flight 311 (R) (photo credit: Baz Ratner / Reuters)
IAF F15s refueling in-flight 311 (R)
(photo credit: Baz Ratner / Reuters)
Senior ministers on Wednesday slammed the media debate about a possible attack on Iran and accused those who leaked the information of harming the nation’s national interest.
“There has never been a breakdown of responsibility and a campaign of recklessness like there is today,” Minister-without-Portfolio Bennie Begin said in a series of media interviews that included Army Radio and Channel 2.
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For the last week, the media has spoken about government debates regarding a possible Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities.
In one report, information from a meeting with Interior Minister Eli Yishai was leaked, in which he was filmed by someone with a cell phone saying that the responsibility of such a decision weighed heavily on him.
Haaretz ran a front page story in which it said that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak were soliciting support – particularly among the Inner Cabinet, a forum of eight ministers – for a military attack on Iran.
Last week, Yediot Aharonot ran a frontpage column titled “Atomic Pressure,” which made similar allegations.
The media attention, Begin said, “pales in comparison to the acts of Anat Kamm, for which she was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison.”
“Public servants swore to guard state secrets forever, also after they leave their positions,” Begin added.
Making such discussions public, he added: “Can present real damage to the government’s abilities to make decisions.”
Former National Security Council head Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland countered Begin’s attack on the now public debate on an Iranian military strike.
It’s natural that this kind of discourse occurs, he told Army Radio.
“It’s hard to take a topic that the prime minister declares to be the most important to the State of Israel and then prevent public debate about it,” Eiland said.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that the media reports had caused “tremendous damage” and that 99 percent of what had been published in the media with regard to an Israeli military strike on Iran “had no relation to the truth.”