IDF Spokesperson Nominee Under Scrutiny

YERUSHALAYIM -

The appointment of the next IDF spokesperson has come under high-level scrutiny following disclosure that he served as a police agent in the Yisrael Beytenu corruption probe in 2015.

Army chief Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu were scheduled to meet Thursday to discuss the matter, according to The Times of Israel on Thursday.

The nominee, Gil Messing, 35, was never implicated in any wrongdoing, and the State Attorney’s Office said his assistance in the case “deserves appreciation.” So it was not clear why his nomination has come up for review.

The state also dismissed a report that Messing may have been surreptitiously recording Avigdor Liberman, chairman of Yisrael Beytenu. They said he was never asked by police to help in the investigation of “any elected official.”

The investigation was one of the most wide-ranging in Israel’s history, in which 36 people were arrested and one was sentenced to 15 months in prison on corruption charges.

The office added that it was working with police to declassify the information about Messing’s involvement at his request.

Kohavi apparently was unaware of Messing’s involvement in the investigation prior to a report in Haaretz. But the IDF said that it was satisfied that his record was clean.

“Following the publication, the matter was reviewed by the relevant figures in law enforcement. This review found that Messing was never a suspect in the case and that there has never been a shred of a doubt about his conduct in this regard,” the IDF said.

The appointment had already been the focus of some controversy, due to Messing’s relative lack of military experience. The IDF Spokesperson holds the rank of Major General and is a member of the General Staff Forum.

He is currently employed as head of global corporate communications for the technology company Check Point. For several years, he served as politician Tzippi Livni’s spokesman.