Lapid says PM seriously harmed national security with Iran revelations

Yesh Atid head: Netanyahu is making mistakes he would not have made in the past, such as televised presentation of smuggled nuclear archive

Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid leads a faction meeting in the Israeli parliament on April 30, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid leads a faction meeting in the Israeli parliament on April 30, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid said Wednesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a serious error of judgment by publicly presenting the information gleaned from the Mossad’s capture of Iran’s nuclear program archives and could have harmed national security.

Lapid said he was opposed to the nuclear deal, and worked against it from the opposition, but described the prime minister’s speech as “a mistake that caused damage to this goal.”

The Yesh Atid head said that Netanyahu “made a professional mistake of the first order in his judgment on national security issues.”

“What is even more worrying is that this is not his first or only mistake recently,” Lapid said. “Netanyahu today makes mistakes that he would not have made in the past.”

Lapid was apparently insinuating that the series of investigations that Netanyahu is facing has clouded his judgement.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu exposes files that prove Iran’s nuclear program in a press conference in Tel Aviv, on April 30, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

On Monday the prime minister made a televised presentation — live, in English and broadcast around the world — unveiling a massive intelligence trove on Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

Netanyahu presented what he said was a vast archive of Iran’s own documentation demonstrating that Tehran worked to develop a nuclear weapons arsenal and brazenly lied to the international community about it — facts which, the prime minister claimed, totally undermined the legitimacy of the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and six world powers.

Lapid listed what he considered to be Netanyahu’s mistakes.

He said that publicly revealing the material endangered Israeli intelligence operations within Iran, citing as evidence Iran’s efforts to crack down on security following the televised presentation.

He also said that Netanyahu’s big reveal that Iran was lying about its nuclear program was already well known. “The head of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee [Bob Corker], a conservative’s conservative, said: ‘Sorry, this is the biggest secret in the world,'” said Lapid. “[Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo said, ‘Obviously we knew.'”

Furthermore, Lapid said that Netanyahu weakened his case by presenting it publicly in front of the cameras.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures to Iranian nuclear files obtained by Israel which he says proves Iran lied about its nuclear weapons program, April 30, 2018 (Prime Minister’s Office)

“The Prime Minister and the head of the Mossad should have gone round in the White House, the Bundestag and the international community and presented it to them in closed forums,” Lapid said. He explained that showing the material to world leaders face to face would have been much more effective.

Netanyahu’s Likud party responded to Lapid’s criticisms, charging that he was using Israel’s security to score political points.

“Contrary to his delusional statement, the decision to publish the Iranian nuclear archive was accepted jointly by all the relevant security agencies,” a statement from Likud said.

“When your military experience amounts to serving in the Bamahane [army] newspaper, this is what comes out,” the statement continued. “If someone won’t help it is better that at least they don’t interfere.”

Hadashot news reported Tuesday that the decision to publicize the contents of the intelligence heist was made at a meeting held by Netanyahu, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, Mossad head Yossi Cohen, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, and the head of the Military Intelligence Directorate, Tamir Hayman.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L), and Yossi Cohen, head of the Mossad secret service at a press conference at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, October 15, 2015. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Police have recommended Netanyahu be indicted for fraud, breach of trust and bribery in the investigations, known as cases 1000 and 2000.

In Case 1000, Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, are alleged to have received illicit gifts from billionaire benefactors, most notably the Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan, totaling NIS 1 million ($282,000).

In return, Netanyahu is alleged by police to have intervened on Milchan’s behalf in matters relating to legislation, business dealings, and visa arrangements.

Case 2000 involves a suspected illicit quid pro quo deal between Netanyahu and Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper publisher Arnon Mozes, that would have seen the prime minister weaken a rival daily, the Sheldon Adelson-backed Israel Hayom, in return for more favorable coverage from Yedioth.

He is also suspect in case 4000, which involves suspicions that the chairman and controlling shareholder of the telecommunications giant Bezeq, Shaul Elovitch, ordered the Walla news site, which he owns, to grant positive coverage to Netanyahu and his family, in exchange for the prime minister allegedly advancing regulations benefiting Bezeq and Elovitch.

Netanyahu has denied any wrongdoing.

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