Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud), who was recently appointed a minister without portfolio, has been accused of a clandestine effort to use his former position as chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Security Committee to protect Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s image.
According to a report by Channel 2, Hanegbi drew up a document whitewashing Netanyahu’s handling of the 2014 Gaza war – then passed off it off as the findings of the committee he chaired.
The state comptroller Yosef Shapira recently released a report blasting both Netanyahu and former Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon for their handling of the war, writing that the two failed to keep the security cabinet informed of military threats before and during the war in Gaza, hampering decision-making during Operation Protective Edge.
Yaalon and Netanyahu have also been criticized for their failure to address the growing threat of tunnels dug by Hamas into Israeli territory, despite warnings by the Shin Bet security agency prior to the war.
MK Ofer Shelah (Yesh Atid) blasted Hanegbi on Wednesday, accusing him of a “cover-up” aimed at protecting the Prime Minister.
Hanegbi, however, has denied the charges, and blasted Shelah, claiming he leaked classified documents.
The minister brushed off accusations he had attempted to protect the Prime Minister.
“To read into the document I wrote some kind of political significance is galling,” Hanegbi said on Thursday.
“This is really ridiculous,” Hanegbi told Army Radio, suggesting that Shelah had publicized the secret document. “In this same document that I sent to the Speaker of the Knesset, I had requested that a small number of members of the Secret Operations subcommittee [of the Foreign Affairs and Security Committee] be informed of the report and that if they were interested [in reading the document] they should come to the committee office, since we cannot openly publicize a highly classified document any other way,” Hanegbi explained.
“And the only one to show up was Ofer Shelah. A few minutes later [Channel 2 journalist] Amit Segal started making queries to the committee office and the Knesset Speaker.”
The back-and-forth continued on Thursday, with Shelah denying Hanegbi’s suggestion he was responsible for leaking the document.
“The document Tzachi Hanegbi wrote was not leaked by me; that’s an utterly false and baseless claim. And anyway a letter from the chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Security Committee to the Knesset Speaker is not a classified document from a subcommittee hearing, it’s a personal letter of his.”