Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu opened Monday’s session of the Corona Cabinet with a tongue-lashing over a leaked conversation which has been making headlines since Sunday.
“First of all, I would like to start with the grave incident of the recording of a Corona Cabinet meeting that was broadcast in the media. In all my years as prime minister, I do not remember such a thing, neither from a cabinet meeting nor from the Corona Cabinet, a discussion with the head of the ISA. This is very grave.
“This cannot be ignored. I ask all the relevant authorities, including the attorney general, to enable a thorough investigation. We cannot allow such a thing to take root. We cannot allow this to recur,” PM Netanyahu said, before moving on to a list of possible measures on the cabinet’s agenda.
They included: a dramatic increase in enforcement (fines were raised from 200 to 500 shekels, $145); having a centralized enforcement authority under the Public Security Ministry, and mobilizing additional forces for inspection and enforcement; digital tools for surveillance of COVID-19 carriers; local shutdowns in lieu of general ones; and a stricter ceiling on gatherings.
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit subsequently announced that he will examine the request to investigate the leaks.
The leak that incurred the prime minister’s wrath came in the form of recordings aired Sunday evening by Channel 12 which showed Netanyahu pushing for a renewal of a controversial program of Shin Bet tracking of coronavirus cases, and agency head Nadav Argaman arguing against it.
Leaks from government meetings are common, but the airing of audio tapes is not.
Neither Netanyahu nor Argaman have taken a public position on the issue of renewing use of the Shin Bet technology, which has raised concerns about invasion of citizen privacy.