News24

Israel foreign minister, Mossad in row

2011-11-20 19:17

Jerusalem - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called in Israel's top diplomat and the Mossad spymaster on Sunday to try to end a feud that has harmed ties between their agencies, Israel Radio said.

It said Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman last week suspended their co-operation, arguing that the overseas intelligence service had "interfered in, and circumvented, his realm of responsibility".

A government spokesperson had no immediate comment on the reported meeting of Netanyahu, Lieberman and Mossad director Tamir Pardo.

But one official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the power struggle concerned a diplomatic back-channel that the Mossad had helped set up for the Netanyahu government abroad.

Lieberman, a tough-talking far-rightist within Netanyahu's conservative coalition, has often been sidelined by the prime minister in contacts with key foreign allies.

A veteran Mossad officer, David Meidan, led last month's Egyptian-mediated prisoner exchange with Palestinian Hamas, at a time when Israel's embassy in Cairo was empty following a mob rampage there in September.

The swap also involved Turkey, which took in some of the hundreds of freed Palestinian prisoners, and which had previously shunned the Netanyahu government in anger at Israel's killing of nine Turks aboard an activist ship that tried to breach the Gaza blockade in 2010.