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Shin Bet Starts Memo Drive in Disputes with Netanyahu

Put it in writing. This is the directive that has reportedly come down from top officials in Israel’s security establishment, which has suffered growing tensions recently with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In an effort to protect themselves, security officials have issued a directive to their staffers that all exchanges, formal and informal, with the prime minister and all representatives of his office must be recorded in memos, Israel Radio reported Sunday.

The move came after Netanyahu said last week that he had written protocols of meetings that he held with the head of the Shin Bet domestic security service in which Ami Ayalon advised him to open a second entrance to an archaeological tunnel near the Temple Mount.

In the wake of the tunnel entrance opening, Palestinian rioting erupted in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, leaving 15 Israelis and 60 Palestinians dead in three days of violence.

Defense officials said at the time that they had not been informed of the decision to open the tunnel and only learned about it shortly before it happened.

Netanyahu’s statement last week led to a round of charges and countercharges over what he had been advised by his top security officials.

Ayalon was quoted last week as saying that he had told the prime minister that opening the second entrance to the tunnel was possible without prompting violent reaction.

But, Ayalon added, he had also said the opening of the entrance needed to be accompanied by an accelerated pace in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and by the opening of a large mosque located under the Temple Mount that is known as Solomon’s Stables.

Ayalon also issued a statement last week denying rumors that he had considered resigning from the Shin Bet because of tensions with the Prime Minister’s Office.

Netanyahu’s media adviser, Shai Bazak, rejected reports that relations between the Prime Minister’s Office and the security establishment were at an all-time low.

“We fully appreciate their work and have full faith in them,” he told Israel Radio.

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