Begin Lays Down the Law to Cabinet Members: No Leaks, No Smoking

Premier Menachem Begin has laid down the law to his Cabinet: No smoking during Cabinet meetings, no talking to journalists afterwards. The ban on talking is aimed primarily at avoiding “leaks” to the press of sensitive matters, a situation that distressed previous governments.

Begin is adamant on the subject. “There will be no leaks from this Cabinet,” he told his colleagues. He characterized “leaks” as “destructive on the domestic scene and even more so where our international relations are concerned.” To ensure a leak-proof Cabinet the Premier has also banned the presence of ministers’ aides and advisors at Cabinet sessions. Under his ruling, any minister who needs an aide or advisor during discussion of a specific subject must apply for permission beforehand. The aide would be allowed to attend only while the particular subject is being discussed.

Begin also enjoined his ministers to tell journalists not to contact them at their homes after Cabinet sessions. He promised that the Cabinet secretary will report to the news media on Cabinet matters “in the fullest possible detail” except on “classified subjects.”

DINITZ TO REMAIN ENVOY

These instructions were followed yesterday by Cabinet members who declined to provide any statement, as had been the case in the past, to journalists waiting outside the Cabinet after its weekly session ended. According to the strict new rules, on official announcement stated merely that Simcha Dinitz, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, briefed the Cabinet on the latest developments in Washington regarding the Carter Administration’s attitude toward Middle East developments, the attitude of the media toward Israel and the Arab view of a peace settlement as told him by members of the Carter Administration.

It was learned, however, that Begin told the Cabinet he had no intention of replacing Dinitz and that he praised the envoy for his excellent job in Washington. Another official Cabinet announcement noted that Likud Knesseter Yoram Aridor will be a Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and that Ephraim Evron has been appointed director general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Begin also made it clear that he would not tolerate smoking during Cabinet meetings, especially cigars which he called “most disturbing”. He was reportedly asked by one minister how he would deal with Prof. Yigael Yadin, an inveterate pipe-smoker, should Yadin’s Democratic Movement for Change (DMC) join the government coalition. Begin replied that when the time comes he would discuss the smoking issue with Yadin.

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