Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that he did not convene a security cabinet meeting during last month’s flareup with Hamas because he was concerned that politically motivated participants would leak contents of the high-level discussions to the press.
Netanyahu was pressed on the matter by Army Radio during his latest stop on a last-minute media blitz before Tuesday’s elections.
“What do you want, for Hamas to know what we are going to do?” he retorted. “Unfortunately, there has been some irresponsible behavior by some of (my coalition partners). They’re ready to leak everything. I will not allow that to happen that.”
Despite asserting that he wanted to continue serving with the right-wing ministers that he accused of leaking sensitive security information, Netanyahu said that convening the security cabinet just several weeks before the election would have given Hamas the upper hand.
“I followed the policy of the security cabinet (on Gaza). When I act according to that policy and do not deviate from it, there is no need to convene the cabinet, just to allow for leaks,” he added, suggesting that the apparent restraint demonstrated by Israel in response to rockets last month toward Tel Aviv was part of the government’s longstanding policy.
On March 31, Education Minister Naftali Bennett sent a letter to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit in which he complained that Netanyahu — who is also defense minister — was excluding other members of the high-level panel from decisions on Gaza, where violence had flared up earlier that month and border tensions remain taut.
Shortly after Bennett’s request — rejected by Mandelblit — Netanyahu canceled a discussion of the top security body scheduled for later that week.
Bennett, who heads the recently founded New Right party, which is running in the upcoming April 9 Knesset elections, has harshly criticized Netanyahu’s Gaza policy as too soft, presented a policy plan that he claimed would “open the gates of hell” on Hamas, and demanded the post of defense minister in the next government.