Liberman Demands Apology Over War Report Leak Allegation

YERUSHALAYIM -
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
MK Avigdor Liberman. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Yisrael Beitenu head Avigdor Liberman is demanding an apology from Channel Ten military correspondent Or Heller for claiming that he leaked details of a State Comptroller’s report on the way the government handled Operation Protective Edge. If Heller does not retract the story, Heller and Channel Ten could find themselves the subjects of a lawsuit.

Heller said in a news broadcast on Channel Ten that Liberman leaked details of the report in order to cause harm to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. “He also targeted Moshe Yaalon, perhaps with the intention of inheriting his Defense Ministry post. Liberman was without question the person who leaked this report.”

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,” taking 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.

In a letter to Heller, attorneys representing Liberman said that “without question this report harmed our client. After a retraction and apology are issued our client will examine the remedies available to him under the law.” In response, Channel Ten said that Heller was only reporting what senior government officials had told him, and that Liberman had been given sufficient opportunity to respond.

On Sunday, Liberman told Army Radio that he was not 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 he was not the culprit, he said.