MK Omer Bar-Lev of the Labor party was suspended on Monday from all the subcommittees of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee after he was found to have leaked to the media information from a closed meeting of the defense budget committee.
The suspension is in effect until the end of the Knesset’s summer session.
Bar-Lev was summoned on Monday to the office of MK Ze’ev Elkin, who was just last week appointed to head the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. During the meeting, Elkin informed Bar-Lev of the suspension.
It is believed that Bar-Lev gave to one of the media outlets a copy of a letter he had sent to Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, in which he expressed his surprise at a discrepancy in reports regarding the IDF's training budget and its new budget demands.
Bar-Lev claimed to have discovered a conflict between a report provided by a senior IDF officer last February about the IDF's training programs and a recent presentation by Ya’alon regarding the IDF’s budgetary requirements.
MK Bar-Lev’s office said on Monday evening that the reason for the suspension was not leaking information to the media, but rather over the fact that his letter was unclassified and the defense establishment believes it should have been highly classified.
"As far as we’re concerned, the main issue is that the conflicting reports of senior IDF officers to the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee must be looked into, and not a minor offense over some procedure that does breach security,” said the statement.
Elkin had promised Bar-Lev that the committee would look into the defense establishment’s budgetary reports, according to the statement.
This incident is not the first time where MKs have been suspected of leaking information from closed meetings.
Last year, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman called for members of a Knesset subcommittee he headed at the time to undergo a "lie detector" polygraph test in an attempt to stop media leaks.
Liberman’s demand came after information from meetings of the Knesset Subcommittee on Secret Services was leaked to the media, and some classified material was exposed.
In 2012, Minister Uzi Landau also called for officials to undergo a lie detector test to find out who leaked security secrets to the media.
Those comments came after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu angrily canceled a Security Cabinet meeting after discovering that someone disclosed secret information.