MKs may need to sign non-dis­clo­sure forms be­fore learn­ing state se­crets

Hanegbi apol­o­gizes for ac­cus­ing She­lah of leak­ing con­fi­den­tial Pro­tec­tive Edge re­port

Jerusalem Post - - NEWS - • By LAHAV HARKOV

Law­mak­ers may have to sign non-dis­clo­sure agree­ments be­fore meet­ings in which they are ex­posed to con­fi­den­tial in­for­ma­tion, Knes­set House Com­mit­tee chair­man Yoav Kisch pro­posed Mon­day.

Kisch called the meet­ing af­ter a con­fi­den­tial re­port by for­mer For­eign Af­fairs and De­fense Com­mit­tee chair­man Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud) on 2014’s Op­er­a­tion Pro­tec­tive Edge leaked to the press, but said there are other con­fi­den­tial com­mit­tees and sub­com­mit­tees in the Knes­set, and the meet­ing ad­dressed how to pre­vent the gen­eral phe­nom­e­non of leak­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to Kisch, the leak not only di­rectly dam­ages Is­rael’s se­cu­rity as a re­sult of the in­for­ma­tion re­vealed, it hurts the com­mit­tee’s abil­ity to func­tion, be­cause of­fi­cials are re­luc­tant to give it clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion.

“I will fight the leaks. It can­not be that there is no way to pre­vent MKs from leak­ing con­fi­den­tial ma­te­ri­als,” he said. “The For­eign Af­fairs and De­fense Com­mit­tee is the most dis­creet in the Knes­set, and we must keep it that way.”

The House Com­mit­tee chair­man called for MKs to take poly­graph tests to see who leaked the doc­u­ment, fac­ing op­po­si­tion from Knes­set Le­gal Adviser Eyal Yi­non and For­eign Af­fairs and De­fense Com­mit­tee chair­man Avi Dichter.

Yi­non said poly­graph tests for elected of­fi­cials have both con­sti­tu­tional and prac­ti­cal prob­lems.

On a prac­ti­cal level, Yi­non ex­plained, poly­graph tests do not give to­tally ac­cu­rate re­sults, which is why they can­not be used as ev­i­dence in crim­i­nal cases.

Con­sti­tu­tion­ally, he added: “Such tests, ad­min­is­tered by the ex­ec­u­tive branch, un­der­mine sep­a­ra­tion of pow­ers and limit the leg­is­la­ture’s abil­ity to ex­am­ine [the ex­ec­u­tive branch].”

Yi­non saw less of a prob­lem with having MKs sign a non-dis­clo­sure agree­ment as a de­ter­rent, though he said that leaks do not hap­pen very of­ten, so spe­cial rules be­yond the crim­i­nal code do not have to be cre­ated to deal with them.

The le­gal adviser pointed out that “leak­ing con­fi­den­tial ma­te­ri­als is a crime, and the attorney-gen­eral can or­der an in­ves­ti­ga­tion, which can lead to the end of an MK’s ten­ure if he is found guilty with moral turpi­tude.”

Yi­non also pointed to the le­gal prece­dent of then-op­po­si­tion leader Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu re­veal­ing con­tents of a clas­si­fied doc­u­ment about gov­ern­ment ne­go­ti­a­tions to give the Golan Heights to Syria in 1995. The High Court said he was not guilty of a crime, be­cause the act was un­planned and a re­sponse to then-for­eign min­is­ter Shi­mon Peres ac­cus­ing him of ly­ing about the ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Dichter also called on MKs to stop talk­ing about poly­graphs, say­ing it is an un­re­li­able method.

“If there’s a leak of con­fi­den­tial in­for­ma­tion, we can ask for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion, and the in­ves­ti­ga­tors will de­cide what tools to use. Of­ten, poly­graphs are not one of them,” he stated.

Dichter said that leaks should not be ig­nored, but a se­ri­ous re­sponse like a crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion should not be taken lightly, and only be used when the leak is dam­ag­ing enough to war­rant it.

“I think that de­ter­rence mostly worked un­til now,” he added.

MK Yi­fat Shasha-Bi­ton (Ku­lanu) ex­pressed dis­may at the lack of pun­ish­ments for leak­ing.

“We all have a great re­spon­si­bil­ity on our shoul­ders,” she said. “It sounds ab­surd to make us sign a non-dis­clo­sure doc­u­ment, be­cause who doesn’t know now that we can’t re­veal the in­for­ma­tion, but it must be done if there are leaks, even if they are rare.”

MK Amir Ohana (Likud) said he would be will­ing to sign a doc­u­ment and take a poly­graph test, and “any­one who re­fuses must have some­thing to hide.”

At the end of the meet­ing, Kisch asked Knes­set Se­cu­rity Of­fi­cer Yosef Griff, who is re­spon­si­ble for data se­cu­rity, to re­search how for­eign par­lia­ments deal with this is­sue in or­der to pre­pare new in­struc­tions.

Also Mon­day, the For­eign Af­fairs and De­fense Com­mit­tee bade farewell to Hanegbi, as he be­came a min­is­ter with­out port­fo­lio last week.

Dur­ing the meet­ing, Hanegbi apol­o­gized to Yesh Atid MK Ofer She­lah, whom he ac­cused of leak­ing the Pro­tec­tive Edge re­port.

(Knes­set Spokesman’s Of­fice – Yitzhak Harari)

MEM­BERS OF the For­eign Af­fairs and De­fense Com­mit­tee bade farewell yes­ter­day to for­mer com­mit­tee chair­man Tzachi Hanegbi, who last week be­came a min­is­ter with­out port­fo­lio.

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