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Shin Bet Withheld Iran Secrets From Lieberman As Security Risk – OpEd

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Israel Defense, the publication which covers the Israeli defense industry, reports that when Avigdor Lieberman was Minister for Strategic Affairs, in an earlier iteration of the Netnayahu government, the Shin Bet, which determines security clearances, refused to approve access to some of the nation’s secret information about Iran.  In contrast, the current minister filling that portfolio, Moshe Yaalon, has full access.

If true, this report raises all sorts of questions and red flags.  One has to wonder why he would be deprived of such information.  The mind immediately turns to Lieberman’s close ties to Russia, where he is on especially good terms with the leadership and makes frequent visits to Moscow.  Of course, Russia is one of Iran’s leading trading partners, is building the Bushehr nuclear plant, and provides Iran some of the most advanced anti-aircraft missile technology.  Russia would be very interested to know what Israel knows about its affairs in Iran.  In fact, much of the information provided on this subject that made it into the IAEA report seems to have derived from Israeli intelligence.  This may be one reason why the Shin Bet would worry about allowing Lieberman access.

A senior Israeli source with high-level political and military experience tells me that there have been rumors for years that Lieberman was sent to Israel by the KGB as a young immigrant in order to make his mark and rise upward in Israeli politics. To anyone who argues that such rumors are unsubstantiated, I would remind them that there were unsubstantiated rumors for years about Moshe Katsav’s sexual predatory habits. He’s about to spend seven years in prison. Since the end of Ben Gurion’s reign, the Shin Bet has been prohibited from monitoring Israeli (Jewish politicians), so no one can determine whether the rumor is true.

An anonymous flyer (in Hebrew, a pashkevil or “broadside”) oddly titled, “I Think Therefore I Am,” was posted in Jerusalem last month, which accused Lieberman of being the head of a Russian spy ring inside Israel:

The State of Israel is powerless in the face of Russian spy services, directed by the chair of Yisrael Beitenu, Avigdor Lieberman and his partners in the Party.  Some of the Israeli media has offered less than candid or even misleading information on this subject.

We demand the foreign minister be investigated according to the evidence and gravity of his deeds.  We announce to the weak ones who stand at the head of this nation, that the people dwelling in Zion will not allow those entrusted with its secrets to leak them to a state [Russia] which enjoys close intelligence relations with Syria, Iran and Hezbollah.

When I first received the flyer I didn’t know what to make of it: was it authentic?  Did the writer know what he was talking about or was it a smear without foundation?  Who would have the motive to do this?  And why would they put up a flyer rather than leak it to the Israeli media?

If Lieberman is suspected of being a Russian intelligence asset then it would be the Shin Bet which would make such a determination rather than the Mossad.  This may explain why the Israel Defense report notes it was the former agency which refused him access.

The Israel Defense story is the first indication that Lieberman really is considered a security risk by Israel’s intelligence services.  Which means that whoever wrote the flyer knew this.  Either the author had connections with intelligence or somehow became aware of the issue through second-hand sources.  I still can’t figure out why someone posts a flyer on the street with such information rather than leak it to the media–unless they’d tried and failed to interest a reporter in the story.

A 2009 U.S. embassy cable published by Wikileaks (be sure to click tiny red box with an “x” to remove donation pop up) reports the following:

Israeli FM Lieberman’s June 2-3 visit to Russia appears…to have…cemented Moscow’s impression that the Russian-speaking Lieberman is one of their own.

…[Israeli deputy chief of mission] Fuchs explained that Lieberman conducted his meetings in Russian, shared stories about Moscow, and smoked, creating a comfortable atmosphere with his Russian interlocutors. The Israeli FM “behaved like an old friend” commented Fuchs, who thought that the Russians acted as if they already knew him.

So much “one of their own” that he’d spy on their behalf?

At any rate, we now know that not only is the former Moldovan nightclub bouncer and convicted child-beater corrupt, but he’s also accused of being a Russian mole.

This article appeared at Tikun Olam

Richard Silverstein

Richard Silverstein

Richard Silverstein is an author, journalist and blogger, with articles appearing in Haaretz, the Jewish Forward, Los Angeles Times, the Guardian’s Comment Is Free, Al Jazeera English, and Alternet. His work has also been in the Seattle Times, American Conservative Magazine, Beliefnet and Tikkun Magazine, where he is on the advisory board. Check out Silverstein's blog at Tikun Olam, one of the earliest liberal Jewish blogs, which he has maintained since February, 2003.

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