Emanuel Shahaf

It’s Again the Prime Minister, Stupid !

We are still reeling from the revelations of the Boaz Harpaz/Yoav Galant/Gabi Ashkenazj/Ehud Barak affair as we are getting clobbered with the Gaza flotilla report finally published by the State Comptrollers Office. Reading what was published so far, we can safely say that it couldn’t have been much worse: The Prime Minister made his decisions without preparatory staff work and none of these decisions were summarized, coordinated or documented. The Prime Minister did not insist on integrated staff work to prepare a suitable policy to deal with the flotilla and instead held personal meetings with the Foreign and Defense Ministers, none of which were summarized or documented in any way. The PM did not hold preparatory meetings with other relevant ministers like Justice and Public Security, and only held one ad hoc meeting without any preparation and without presence of the relevant officials from all the professional units and offices concerned. By acting in this way he went against the recommendations of the Winograd Commission and the Lipkin-Shahak, both convened in the wake of the 2nd Lebanon War. This was done despite the express requests of both, Chief of Staff Ashkenazi and Minister for Strategic Affairs and former Chief of Staff Yalon, to hold an integrated policy meeting with all concerned. The PM did not hold a joint meeting with the Foreign and Defence Ministers to develop a  common approach for a systematic political and diplomatic effort to project a coordinated public diplomacy to prevent the flotilla from leaving its home ports or else,  from reaching its target. All meetings among the political echelons were held privately without preparatory staff work or documentation and it is not clear if any decisions were reached and what they were. The PM did not follow the law as it pertains to the National Security Council, did not task the Council or involve it as required and did not see to it that all relevant players were in the loop.

I think the picture is clear enough although the comptrollers report goes on and on.

What exactly did the PM do ? He winged it, as the saying goes. Now this was an issue (the Gaza Flotilla that is)  with considerable potential for real trouble, coming just as our relations with Turkey were souring by the day, in other words an issue that should have been treated with the utmost care, loads of preparatory work and meetings with all concerned.

What does the Office of the Prime Minister have to say about the report? “As far as the situation is concerned, the citizens of Israel enjoy a level of security they have not had for many years. This is the direct result of responsible and determined management. The level of security discussions held in the last three years is unprecedented in scope and depth and the participants will testify that this is indeed so.” End of quote. Until next time….

I think we can safely say that in most Western democracies a report of this intensity would not just cause a storm in the media but would likely cause heads to roll and resignations at the highest levels. Needless to say, here we are dealing with King Bibi and royalty has its own rules.

If we think that the same person who carelessly mishandles our foreign and security relations with a major strategic ally ignoring recommendations from earlier commissions of inquiry as to how crisis situations should be dealt with will guide us safely through the major problems this country is dealing with, we are wrong. The only question is when we will wake up and do something about it. If we don’t we will only have to blame ourselves for the consequences.

About the Author
The author served in the Prime Minister’s Office as a member of the intelligence community, is Vice Chairman of the Israel-Indonesia Chamber of Commerce, Vice-Chairman of the Israeli-German Society (IDG), Co-Chair of the Federation Movement (, member of the council at and author of "Identity: The Quest for Israel's Future".