Reports have emerged that staffers for Prime Minister Yair Lapid made use of the government press office's photocopying and editing services in order to record and disseminate a political video clip in which Lapid responds to criticisms leveled against him by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with regard to the emerging maritime agreement between Israel and Lebanon.
"Can someone explain to me why the government press office is copying a political message from Yair Lapid?" wrote Topaz Lok, one of Netanyahu's advisers, on Twitter. "Legal adviser to the Prime Minister's Office - is everything okay with you? Good morning..."
The director of the government press office, Nitzan Chen, told Israel National News that the incident was being investigated. "On the face of it, something went wrong there," he admitted.
Lapid is facing fierce criticism for the maritime deal, which is due to be discussed by senior government members on Thursday. Although details of the deal are not widely known, statements made by Lapid indicate that Israel is prepared to make far-reaching concessions to Lebanon, and this has in fact been confirmed by none other than alternate Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.
On Monday, senior political officials told Channel 13 News that the issue in the principal outline, according to which Israel would give up ownership of the Qana gas reservoir, but would receive royalties from the company that would produce the gas there - was known to Bennett.
The former US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, has also sharply criticized the deal's provisions.
“We spent years trying to broker a deal between Israel and Lebanon on the disputed maritime gas fields. Got very close with proposed splits of 55-60% for Lebanon and 45-40% for Israel. No one then imagined 100% to Lebanon and 0% to Israel. Would love to understand how we got here,” he wrote on Twitter.
“I could be wrong, [but] I think Israel does get zero. My understanding is that Israel gets royalties only on drilling within its own sovereign territory — that’s beyond the scope of the maritime dispute with Lebanon. As to the disputed territory, I understand Lebanon gets it all,” he added.