Report Names Israeli Finance Minister as Cabinet Leak Source

Steinitz Accused of Leaking to Spark Conflict Between Netanyahu, Barak

by Jason Ditz, October 09, 2012

Early in September, with talks of a war with Iran picking up steam, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cancelled security cabinet meetings, claiming he didn’t trust his own cabinet. It was seen as a fit of paranoia, and also the beginning of the current row between Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

But today reports from Kuwait’s al-Jarida citing Shin Bet suggest that Netanyahu wasn’t paranoid, that there really was a leaker in his cabinet, but it wasn’t, as he apparently believed, Ehud Barak. Instead it was a member of his own Likud Party, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz.

The report, which Shin Bet later denied, claims that Steinitz leaked classified documents on Iran specifically to start a row between Netanyahu and Barak, who at the time was trying to negotiate to join the Likud Party as a top list member for the next election.

The tactic, if true, worked like a charm. Netanyahu has called for new elections, and Barak has not joined Likud after talks collapsed. Barak’s Independence Party is seen unlikely to win more than a single seat in the next vote, and would be politically irrelevant.

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