Liberman on Protective Edge Report Leak: I Didn’t Do It

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman shaking hands with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in the Knesset plenum recently. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman (R) shaking hands with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in the Knesset plenum. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Yisrael Beitenu head Avigdor Liberman on Army Radio Sunday claimed ignorance of any advance knowledge of a State Comptroller’s report on the way the government handled Operation Protective Edge – and denied being the person who leaked the report to the media over the weekend. “I do not understand why the prime minister is limiting himself to defamation and lies and does not demand that the Attorney General open an investigation into the leak,” Liberman said. “I would be willing to be questioned and take a polygraph test” to prove that I am not the culprit, he said.

Netanyahu has not spoken directly about the leak itself – and certainly not about Liberman’s involvement or otherwise – but officials in his office said over the weekend that the leak was “shameful,” and that those who had committed it were “politically motivated,” with some pointing the finger at Liberman, who has in recent weeks sharply criticized Netanyahu for all aspects of his defense policy. The portions of the report that were revealed in an article in Haaretz on Friday point to serious flaws in the conduct of that war, and especially in the way the government handled the threat of terror tunnels from Gaza. According to the report, the government was well aware of the threat posed by the tunnels months before the war, but did nothing to address it.

One reason for the poor performance of the defense establishment, the report said, was because Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon treated the war as a “private campaign,” making key decisions on their own without the input of even the security cabinet, much less the rest of the government. When confronted with the situation, ministers slammed Netanyahu and Yaalon, demanding that their voices be heard – to no avail.

Sources close to Netanyahu quoted on Israel Radio said that the prime minister “completely rejects” the portions of the report leaked, which they said were based on incorrect information. “Netanyahu met with the security cabinet dozens of times during the campaign, more than during any other war,” they said, adding that leaks of portions of a report that is not completed are not sufficient to judge the behavior of the government, or for that matter the content of the report itself.

That didn’t stop the opposition from making its criticism of the government’s performance during the war. Meretz head Zehava Gal-on said that “Netanyahu forgot that the rules of government apply also during wartime. The criticism of this report is another attack by Netanyahu and his people on the democratic process. Hiding information from the government is in direct contrast to the tenets of proper government rule.”