Israel’s defence minister angry over leaks that urged West Bank aid

In leaked briefing, Israel’s armed forces chief of staff urged increased economic assistance to the Palestinians to compensate for US cuts.
Friday 21/09/2018
Israeli defense minister Avigdor Lieberman visits the southern city of Sderot, last July. (Reuters)
Israeli defense minister Avigdor Lieberman visits the southern city of Sderot, last July. (Reuters)

LONDON – 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.

Europeans at UN urge Israel not to demolish Palestinian village

Eight European countries at the United Nations including five Security Council members on Thursday called on Israel to reverse its decision to demolish a Palestinian village in the West Bank.

Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Belgium, Poland and the Netherlands warned that the demolition of the village of Khan al-Ahmar “would severely threaten the viability of the two-state solution”.

“We therefore call upon the Israeli authorities to reconsider their decision to demolish Khan al-Ahmar,” the countries said in a joint statement released ahead of a council meeting on the Middle East.

On September 5, Israel’s supreme court upheld an order to raze the village on grounds that it was built without the proper permits.

The community of roughly 200 people is located in a strategic spot near Israeli settlements and along a road leading to the Dead Sea.

There have been warnings that continued Israeli settlement construction in that area could divide the West Bank in two and cut it off from Jerusalem, killing off the prospect of amassing contiguous land for a viable future Palestinian state.

(AW staff and agencies)