Israeli PM reconciles foreign minister, spymaster


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu summoned Israel’s top diplomat and spymaster to end a power-struggle that harmed cooperation between their agencies, a government official said.

The official gave no details of the feud between Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Mossad director Tamir Pardo, which local media said began last week over their respective roles in handling Israel’s contacts abroad.
“There was a trilateral meeting today,” the official said. “Points of contention were resolved. Normal cooperation has resumed.”

Israel Radio said Lieberman had suspended logistical assistance and information-sharing with the Mossad, arguing that the overseas intelligence service had “interfered in, and circumvented, his realm of responsibility.” According to Israel’s Channel Two television, Lieberman was upset when the Mossad arranged a 2010 visit by Netanyahu to Greece that had been held up by a wage strike at the Foreign Ministry, Reuters reports.

The Mossad maintains secret channels of communication with foreign counterparts — including, Israeli sources say, intelligence agencies of some countries that do not formally recognise the Jewish state.

Lieberman, a far-rightist within Netanyahu’s conservative coalition, often clashes publicly with the prime minister on policy and has been sidelined in talks with key foreign allies.

Tamir is close to Netanyahu, a friendship established while serving under his elder brother, Yonatan, who was killed leading the 1976 rescue of airline hostages in Entebbe, Uganda.

A veteran Mossad officer, David Meidan, led last month’s Egyptian-mediated prisoner exchange with Palestinian Hamas. Lieberman opposed the swap but his ministry had little sway, especially as Israel had shut down its Cairo embassy after the mission was overrun by protesters in September.

The exchange brokered by Meidan also involved Turkey, which took in some of the hundreds of freed Palestinian prisoners, and which has otherwise shunned the Netanyahu government over Israel’s killing of nine Turks aboard an activist ship that tried to breach the Gaza blockade in 2010.