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Tape leaks of PM warning ministers not to leak

Furious Netanyahu warns MKs: ‘There is no faster way to be finished’

Raoul Wootliff is the The Times of Israel's political correspondent.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hosts the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, on November 15, 2015. (Emil Salman/Flash90/Pool)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hosts the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, on November 15, 2015. (Emil Salman/Flash90/Pool)

Another recording of a closed Likud meeting has been leaked to the press following an uproar last month over tapes of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu boasting about his settlement building record.

Despite Netanyahu ordering a ban on mobile phones following the October incident, Army Radio reporter Michael Shemesh was able to obtain tape of Wednesday’s faction meeting, ironically containing a warning from the prime minister against the practice of recording internal discussions.

“I will not repeat what I said in the previous meeting,” Netanyahu opened, referring to his directive to confiscate phones of Likud MKs during faction meetings.

In what could have been understood as a veiled threat, Netanyahu told his party’s lawmakers that leaking details of private meetings “is the fastest way to be finished.”

“There are one or two people who have had their worlds ruined because of leaked recordings. If it becomes clear that someone has recorded, he is finished,” Netanyahu said.

MK Tzachi Hanagbi, who serves at the Likud faction chief whip and is considered a close associate of Netanyahu, warned the MKs not to trust journalists seeking recorded material.

“Whoever records will be bound for the rest of their lives in the hands of those journalists,” he said. “You cannot hide it. You have put your whole life in the hands of a journalist. And journalists have wives, children, and in five years could tell someone.”

Minister Ze’ev Elkin also chimed in, saying a number of his colleagues needed to do some “soul searching” for leaking private discussions.

“If anyone has done it, I advise him to go quietly to the Prime Minister and apologize and promise not to repeat it,” he said.

Netanyahu was widely criticized for comments recorded in October in which he appeared to walk back statements he made days earlier at the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America saying he had built less in West Bank settlements than his predecessors.

“The left accuses us that from 280,000 [settlers] we’ve risen to 400,000, and that was during years when we were told that official US policy was not even one house,” Netanyahu could be heard telling Likud MKs.

“Praise God, this isn’t far from the truth. It’s the biggest increase in our realm.”

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