Netanyahu said repeatedly stopping Israeli security chiefs from meeting US officials

Since war began, PM has reportedly blocked heads of IDF, Mossad and Shin Bet from meeting with Antony Blinken, Marco Rubio and others, allegedly to control info given to Washington

Ronen Bar (left), head of the Shin Bet security services, speaks with Mossad chief David Barnea during the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, Jerusalem, May 5, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
Ronen Bar (left), head of the Shin Bet security services, speaks with Mossad chief David Barnea during the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, Jerusalem, May 5, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has blocked Israeli intelligence and security chiefs from meeting with US officials multiple times amid the ongoing war in Gaza, according to officials quoted Sunday by the Axios news site.

Most recently, Netanyahu banned Mossad chief David Barnea and Shin Bet head Ronen Bar from meeting with US Senator Marco Rubio while the latter was in Israel last month, according to unnamed US officials quoted in the report.

Instead, the prime minister met himself with the senator, the report added. The officials said the move was not a shot at Rubio, who sits on the Senate’s intelligence committee and, according to the report, had requested to meet with Barnea and Bar.

According to the report, Netanyahu’s office has also blocked several meetings between Shin Bet leaders and US State Department officials since Hamas’s October 7 onslaught, and, a few months ago, tried to prevent a meeting between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi.

As a compromise, the officials said, Halevi joined a meeting of the war cabinet at which Blinken was present.

Officials quoted in the report said they believe Netanyahu is trying to control what US politicians and lawmakers hear from Israel amid deep divides in his cabinet about the handling of the war.

“It was clear to us that Bibi was just trying to keep the US government from getting information that is contrary to his line,” one official told Axios, using the premier’s nickname. The same US source noted, however, that officials in both countries have found ways to work around Netanyahu’s ban.

The site noted that US officials routinely meet with Israeli military and security chiefs, who are seen as “credible, professional and apolitical.”

This composite image shows US Secretary of State Antony Blinken waving as he arrives at Ben Gurion Airport late on February 6, 2024; and IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi giving a statement to the media at a base in southern Israel on December 26, 2023. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, Pool and Flash90)

The report comes as Netanyahu faces open criticism from other members of the war cabinet.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, in a speech last week, accused Netanyahu of dithering on a plan for a post-Hamas Gaza, and demanded that the prime minister rule out full Israeli military and civilian control of the Strip.

On Saturday night, war cabinet minister Benny Gantz said that “personal and political considerations have begun to penetrate” security policy, and announced that he would pull his National Unity party out of the coalition if a series of demands is not met by June 8.

US officials have communicated a vision of postwar Gaza that includes a reformed Palestinian Authority and a path to Palestinian statehood. Netanyahu, however, has repeatedly expressed opposition to PA control of Gaza, asserting that it will inevitably be used as a base for terrorism.

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