Aides to Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz on Tuesday denied that he had leaked sensitive details about Israel’s strategy for attacking Iran in order to cause a rift between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
The aides rejected the report which appeared, somewhat improbably, in the Kuwaiti al-Jarida newspaper.
The Shin Bet security service also denied the claim, and Shin Bet chief Yoram Cohen called Steinitz to dismiss it.
The Kuwaiti paper said its information was based on an Israeli source.
Barak’s office rejected speculation that sources close to the defense minister had leaked the allegation.
At the beginning of September, Israeli media published information about high-level disagreements over how to deal with Iran which occurred during a closed-door meeting from the previous day.
The leak drove an outraged Netanyahu to cancel the subsequent cabinet meeting and to threaten lie-detector tests for ministers present at the earlier meeting, in order to discover the source of the leak.
According to the al-Jarida report, a Shin Bet investigation traced the leak to Steinitz’s telephone and claimed that the finance minister tried to put the blame on Barak.
Cohen reportedly told Steinitz on Tuesday that there had been no Shin Bet investigation.
Barak and Steinitz have locked horns in the past over budget allocations to the Defense Ministry.
In a meeting with Netanyahu last week, Steinitz reportedly chided Barak for wanting a secure spot on the Likud party list, and Netanyahu upbraided the defense minister for a recent trip to the US, which he said had undermined his own ties with Washington.
The conversation touched off a week of allegations back and forth between Netanyahu and Barak, who until recently had enjoyed a close working relationship.
The two held a meeting Saturday to come to terms over their differences.