Netanyahu aide said to request classified minutes of past security cabinet meetings

Legal adviser to Prime Minister’s Office reportedly blocks transfer of documents as request appears to relate to questions of blame once war is over

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) speaks with then-Cabinet Secretary Tzachi Braverman during the weekly government conference at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on June 17, 2018. (Marc Israel Sellem/POOL)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) speaks with then-Cabinet Secretary Tzachi Braverman during the weekly government conference at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on June 17, 2018. (Marc Israel Sellem/POOL)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s chief of staff has requested access to classified summaries of the high-level security cabinet meetings held by previous governments as well as the current one.

Alongside his request for the summaries of the cabinet meetings, Cabinet Secretary Tzachi Braverman has also requested access to the full minutes of each meeting, Haaretz reported on Tuesday.

According to the report, Braverman’s request appears to be part of an effort by the prime minister and his staff to prepare for the end of the war, when the question of responsibility and government failures will become relevant.

It said that while some of the requested material was transferred to Netanyahu’s office, the legal adviser to the Prime Minister’s Office blocked the transfer of the meeting minutes, citing government regulations by which ministers are not allowed to review the minutes of previous meetings.

Since October 7, when an estimated 3,000 Hamas terrorists stormed into Israel, killing some 1,400 people, taking at least 245 hostages and starting a war in which Israel vowed to destroy the Gaza terror group, Netanyahu has remained adamant that only when the fighting is over will the question of who is responsible be raised.

Despite this, he has apparently sought to place blame on others for the colossal intelligence and policy failures leading up to the Hamas assault, the deadliest in Israel’s history.

Following a press conference on Saturday, October 28, in which he dodged the question of whether a state commission of inquiry will be established to investigate the failures that allowed Hamas to take the country by surprise, Netanyahu took to X, formerly Twitter, to place blame squarely on the shoulders of Israel’s security establishment.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a press conference at the Defense Ministry, in Tel Aviv, October 28, 2023. (Dana Kopel/POOL)

“Contrary to the false claims: Under no circumstances and at no stage was Prime Minister Netanyahu warned of Hamas’s war intentions,” read the post, which was deleted nine hours later and replaced with an apology. “On the contrary, all the security officials, including the head of military intelligence and the head of the Shin Bet, assessed that Hamas had been deterred and was looking for a settlement.”

Then, on Monday, reports alleged that Netanyahu had deflected the blame once more, this time onto reserve IDF soldiers.

During a Sunday night off-camera briefing to reporters, Netanyahu was said to have linked the reservist protest movement — in which thousands of reservists threatened to refuse to show up for duty if the government advanced its highly controversial judicial overhaul bills — with Hamas’s decision to launch its October 7 attack, according to some Hebrew media reports, which the premier has denied.

In a break from his statements to Hebrew-language media, Netanyahu on Monday night seemed to acknowledge some role in the failures leading up to October 7 during an interview to ABC, but again stressed that nothing would be investigated until the end of the war.

Asked if he believed that he should take responsibility, he replied: “Of course. It’s not a question,” adding that there would be time after the war “to allocate” that responsibility.

While Netanyahu has dodged questions about responsibility, many other politicians — current and former — and security officials have made public statements acknowledging their failure to protect the Israeli public.

Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi and Shin Bet head Ronen Bar both took responsibility in the days following October 7.

On October 16, Bar wrote in a missive to agency members: “Despite a series of actions we carried out, unfortunately on Saturday we were unable to generate a sufficient warning that would allow the attack to be thwarted.”

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who is also a minister in the Defense Ministry, both acknowledged their roles in Israel’s failure to protect the public from Hamas, as did former prime minister Naftali Bennett,  who said that there were “things I didn’t have time to do and then the government fell.”

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