A former Shin Bet chief turned lawmaker who resigned from the Knesset in February amid claims of misconduct admitted to lying for decades about serving in the Israel Defense Forces.
In a Hadashot TV news interview aired Friday, Yaakov Peri said he was exempted from mandatory military service due to a systolic heart murmur.
“We’re talking about 57 years ago. During that time, not serving in the army was a mark of shame,” said the former Yesh Atid MK, who joined the Shin Bet intelligence agency five years after being turned away by the IDF.
“Since then I callously lied in order to cover up this same disgrace, this humiliation, that… caused me not to serve,” he said, adding that the Shin Bet was aware he was never in the army.
Despite maintaining the lie for years, Peri said he felt no anger with himself for doing so because of “my contribution to the state, my contribution to its security.”
Peri, 74, also addressed the allegations aired prior to his resignation that he leaked sensitive information to Interior Minister Aryeh Deri about police wiretaps of Deri’s associates during a corruption investigation into the Shas leader two decades ago.
The “Uvda” investigative report in January unearthed a report from a covert probe in 1995 that saw two members of the three-person panel of investigators conclude that Peri — also a former science minister — was likely the source of the 1991 leaks to Deri, after the then-Shin Bet chief was found to be lying on a series of polygraph tests.
“This never happened,” said Peri, who went on to cite the attorney general’s summary of the probe saying he did not leak the information.
“I also know who leaked and why they leaked. I, Yaakov Peri, didn’t leak to Aryeh Deri or anyone else,” he said.
Regarding why he was found to be lying on polygraph tests, he said a “distraught man” such as a Shin Bet head “cannot come out clean and pure like snow.”
While denying wrongdoing and having received the backing of party leader Yair Lapid, Peri said he resigned in order not to be a distraction to Yesh Atid.
Peri, who served as director of the Shin Bet from 1988 until his retirement in 1995, joined Yesh Atid in October 2012 ahead of the general elections the next year.
One of the first public figures to align themselves with the party, Peri was given the number two spot on the Knesset list and, with his valuable security credentials, was credited with helping catapult Yesh Atid into the government after it secured 19 seats in the 2013 poll. He was rewarded with a ministerial posting heading the Ministry of Science and Technology. He went onto serve as an opposition lawmaker after the party was not included in the coalition following the 2015 elections.