Israel's Netanyahu cancels security cabinet meeting on Iran after leak
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) cancelled a security cabinet meeting after details from a previous session, which reportedly concerned the threat posed by Iran, were leaked to the press.
"A short time after the conclusion of yesterday's meeting, a very serious thing happened: a leak from within the cabinet's discussions," a statement from his office yesterday said.
"Yesterday, somebody severely undermined the confidence that Israeli citizens give to this forum. He violated the most basic rules regarding the conduct of security cabinet discussions."
Details about the meeting - where the 14-member security cabinet was briefed by military intelligence chief Aviv Kochavi, spy service Mossad director Tamir Pardo, and Yoram Cohen who runs the Shin Bet internal security - were splashed across the front page of Yediot Aharonot on Wednesday.
Under the headline "Dispute over Iran between intelligence agencies", the article reported that the various organisations "presented conflicting positions on Iran".
"There is currently a disagreement about the point at which Israel's ability to damage the Iranian nuclear programme loses its effectiveness," the paper said.
It added that it was the first time "in many months" the forum had held an in-depth debate about Iran's nuclear progress.
The security cabinet was briefed on a list of crippling sanctions "that have yet to be used on the Iranians, such as a trade embargo and a flight prohibition, which in Israel's opinion could lead to a change".
The prime minister had also "warned the ministers ... not to leak any information".
Netanyahu's office did not mention Iran or the Yediot article when announcing the cancellation of the meeting.
"I have no complaint against the media; they are doing their job. I do have a complaint against whoever violated the most basic trust needed to hold security cabinet discussions on matters about Israel's security, and undermined the ability to hold confidential discussions," Netanyahu said.
Meanwhile, in a veiled reference to Iran on Wednesday, Defence Minister Ehud Barak once again stressed that Israel had the capability to act at any time and place it deemed necessary.
The army "stands strong and ready to act to guarantee the security of Israel, at any time and within any geographic [region]", he said at a military ceremony.
Israel and much of the West believe that Iran's nuclear activities mask a weapons programme, a charge that Tehran has repeatedly denied.
On Wednesday, President Shimon Peres said he "cannot imagine that the United States and Europe would allow the Middle East to fall to Iran", as he met visiting Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi.
Israel says a nuclear Iran would pose an existential threat to the Jewish state.