Shin Bet chief accuses Likud MK of harming national security by pushing conspiracy

Mossad also slams Tally Gotliv for ‘spreading baseless lies’ as she continues to allege David Barnea held sit-down with Shikma Bressler

Tally Gotliv (center in white blouse) and other MKs attend a plenum session marking the Knesset's 75th birthday, on January 24, 2024. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Tally Gotliv (center in white blouse) and other MKs attend a plenum session marking the Knesset's 75th birthday, on January 24, 2024. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar on Wednesday accused a firebrand lawmaker in the ruling Likud party of purposefully harming national security after she again promoted a conspiracy theory against opponents of the government’s judicial overhaul.

In social media posts earlier Wednesday, MK Tally Gotliv repeated her unfounded claim from days before Hamas’s October 7 terror onslaught that Mossad head David Barnea met with Shikma Bressler a leader of the protest movement against the government’s contentious judicial overhaul.

The claim was forcibly denied at the time by Mossad, which on Wednesday issued a fresh response to Gotliv.

“The head of the Mossad never met with, spoke to, or summoned Shikma Bressler,” the spy agency said in a statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office. “This is the second time that MK Gotliv is spreading baseless lies.”

Gotliv’s latest posts included a screenshot of an article from a fringe site known for pushing false conspiracies, which had a headline claiming Barnea “received a message from the Americans that they intercepted conversations between Shikma Bressler’s husband from the Shin Bet to Yahya Sinwar” four days before the Hamas-led massacres. Sinwar is top Hamas leader in Gaza.

Despite the Mossad denial, Gotliv repeated the claim.

“I am an MK and I am committed to the nation and the truth,” she wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

This composite photo shows anti-overhaul protest leader Shikma Bressler (L) and Mossad chief David Barnea. (Miriam Alster and Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Following the exchange, Bar issued a strongly worded letter against Gotliv, saying she published the personal details of employees of security services and in doing so endangered their and their families’ lives. He added that one of the security figures is still active, while the other retired, and noted the article in which they were named included the text “this article was published by a figure with parliamentary immunity.”

“National security cannot be used as a tool in a foolish attempt to get public attention,” Bar wrote, saying Gotliv broke both criminal and civil law with her posts.

He also accused the Likud MK of “knowingly and intentionally” harmed national security and said her actions were causing security services to devote greater time and resources to protecting their members.

“While Knesset Member Gotliv publishes the identities of security personnel, the enemies of the State of Israel are working hard to research their identities, in order to harm them and their family members,” the Shin Bet chief said.

Bar also noted that Gotliv is a member of the high-level Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, exposing her to “classified and sensitive information,” and called for swift action to prevent “these acts” from reoccurring.

The letter from Bar was addressed to Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana, Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman Yuli Edelstein, Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara and Brig. Gen. Avi Gil, who is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s military secretary.

Responding to Bar, Gotliv wrote on X that the Shin Bet head “does not scare me” and claimed he was trying to intimidate her.

Ronen Bar, head of the Shin Bet security agency, speaks at the annual Cyber Week event at Tel Aviv University, on June 27, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

The Likud lawmaker first boosted the conspiracy theory about a meeting between Barnea and Bressler on October 3.

“It’s a good thing I have immunity and judicial orders don’t apply to me,” wrote Gotliv at the time, asking: “Can someone explain this meeting? It’s not innocuous, otherwise it wouldn’t be subject to a gag order.”

Her claim was similarly denied at the time by the Mossad as “complete fake news.”

Since entering the Knesset after elections in November 2022, Gotliv has established a reputation for making incendiary claims, such as accusing the Israel Defense Forces and Shin Bet of “working for terrorists.”

Along with her remarks being a regular source of headaches for Netanyahu, who leads Likud, Gotliv was responsible for an embarrassing coalition vote loss last summer after she refused to toe the party line.

The Mossad has denied previous reports linking it to the mass demonstrations against the government’s plans to weaken the judiciary, including US intelligence documents leaked in April purporting to show senior officials in the spy agency helped stir the protests. The intelligence agency at the time dismissed the reports as “completely false and absurd.”

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