Sheetrit still controls intel. agencies

Sheetrit: My job deals more with the nitty-gritty than Lieberman's, but I am not in charge of strategic threats and Iran like he is.

sheetrit smug 298 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
sheetrit smug 298
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The cabinet minister in charge of supervising Israel's intelligence agencies will travel to Washington later this week, but his name is not Avigdor Lieberman. Lieberman's official title is deputy prime minister and minister-without-portfolio in charge of strategic affairs. He is in charge of coordinating between the national security council, intelligence agencies, and other security services, but he is not the minister in charge of the intelligence agencies. That job title, which was recently held by Tzahi Hanegbi, Uzi Landau and Dan Meridor, belongs to Construction and Housing Minister Meir Sheetrit, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's political foe in Kadima. Olmert angered Sheetrit when he removed the Justice portfolio from him, but he did not take away the control over the intelligence agencies that he received during coalition talks in April. Sheetrit receives all the intelligence information from the agencies, oversees them and responds on their behalf to the state comptroller. He also meets regularly with the heads of the agencies that he oversees, including the Shin-Bet, Mossad and Israeli Atomic Energy Commission. "My job deals more with the nitty-gritty than Lieberman's," Sheetrit said. "But I am not in charge of strategic threats and Iran like he is." When Meridor held Sheetrit's title, he used it to write a report on Israel's strategy and military doctrine that he completed recently. To complicate matters, Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz has the additional title of minister in charge of strategic dialogue, which allows him to also receive intelligence and security information. Olmert's associates said that despite the myriad of titles held by Sheetrit, Mofaz and Defense Minister Amir Peretz, the prime minister makes the final decisions regarding matters of intelligence and security.