TV reports: Netanyahu slams ‘false leaks’ by hostage negotiating team members, tells them to quit

File - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) meets with Mossad chief David Barnea, April 18, 2024. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
File - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) meets with Mossad chief David Barnea, April 18, 2024. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

At the start of today’s war cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly castigated unnamed members of Israel’s hostage negotiating team for leaking false information about the efforts to return the hostages, and told them to quit if they were not prepared to accept the decisions of the political echelon.

In near identical quotes carried by Channel 12 and Kan TV, Netanyahu reportedly said at the meeting: “The false briefings from the negotiating team harm the efforts to return the hostages. They spread despair among the families of the hostages. They have led Hamas to toughen its positions. And they are false.”

The prime minister reportedly added: “If there is somebody in the negotiating team who is not prepared to accept the decisions of the political echelon, and wants to generate false, anonymous headlines for political purposes, they should show some decency and not be here.”

Israel’s negotiating team has made repeated trips to Paris, Cairo and Doha in a so-far unsuccessful effort to follow November’s weeklong truce, in which 105 hostages were freed, with a deal in which the remaining 129 hostages abducted on October 7 and still held in Gaza would be released.

The team is headed by Mossad chief David Barnea, Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar, and IDF Major-General Nitzan Alon.

Netanyahu’s reported comments come three days after Channel 12’s Uvda (Fact) investigative program broadcast interviews two unnamed members of the negotiating team, who claimed that Netanyahu appears to be indifferent to the fate of the hostages and has undermined efforts to reach a deal with Hamas to secure their release.

“I can’t say that without Netanyahu there would have been a deal, but I can say that without Netanyahu, the chances of making a deal would be better,” said one of the two.

In this handout photo, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (R) speaks with Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar on October 28, 2023, during the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

According to the Kan report, Netanyahu has also previously accused Defense Minister Yoav Gallant of leaking material from meetings in which only he, Gallant, Barnea, and Bar were in attendance. “Everything leaks,” he reportedly said at the conclusion of another recent meeting. “I know it’s not the head of the Mossad or the head of the Shin Bet, so who else can it be?”

Netanyahu leveled his accusation against Gallant at the end of a cabinet meeting in which Gallant had participated by telephone, but after he was believed to have hung up. It prompted amusement at Gallant’s expense among some Likud ministers, said the report, which did not make clear whether Gallant had indeed hung up the phone.

A related, unsourced report by Channel 12 says Israel is dismayed by the prospect of Hamas leaders leaving Qatar, as the Gulf state faces increasing pressure over its influence with the terror group in the indirect hostage-for-truce negotiations with Israel.

The report says the Hamas leaders are contemplating relocating to Turkey — whose president Recep Tayyip Erdogan hosted Hamas head Ismail Haniyeh at the weekend — or Algeria.

It says Israel regards Hamas’s presence in Gaza as giving mediators Qatar potential leverage over the terror organization, which would not otherwise be the case.

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