Israel minister angered by leak of West Bank security warning

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Avigdor Lieberman

Israel’s defence minister called Friday for the security services to intervene to stop cabinet leaks after details were broadcast of a confidential military briefing urging increased aid for the West Bank to avert new violence.

Leaks from meetings of Israel’s security cabinet are not uncommon even though it handles the most sensitive government issues.

They are a regular source of finger-pointing between the small number of top ministers who are members.

But Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said a red line had been crossed with the leaking of details of last Sunday’s briefing by armed forces chief of staff Lieutenant General Gadi Eisenkot.

In the briefing, Eisenkot warned ministers there was a likelihood of increased violence in the occupied West Bank as well as the Gaza Strip, Israel’s privately run television news provider Hadashot reported on Thursday.

He urged increased economic assistance to the Palestinians to compensate for the swingeing cuts in US aid ordered by President Donald Trump, it added.

Eisenkot warned that a speech Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas is to deliver to the UN General Assembly next Wednesday could be a trigger for the feared upsurge in violence, Hadashot added.

Lieberman called on Twitter for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to order action by Israel’s Shin Bet internal security service to prevent any recurrence of such leaks.

The Trump administration has cut more than $500 million in aid to the Palestinians this year in a bid to force Abbas to end the boycott he ordered in December when the US president recognised the disputed city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Israel’s right-wing coalition government has expressed strong support for US policy although there have been repeated reports in the Israeli media of disquiet in the military about its implications for security in the Palestinian territories.