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Lets continue following our story on the 'disappearance' of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this week as things continue to unfold.
On Monday there was an unexplained absence of Israel's leader for more than 12 hours. His office released a statement saying that he was busy with “secret and classified activities”.
But what has become clear is that there is a cover-up – and at the least – vague misleadings that have now got Mr. Netanyahu and his team all wrapped up in a knot. Some media outlets are labbleing this whole mess as a “shameful Russian affair.”
But it seems it was not so much the fact that it happened – but how it happened – and the wake of it all.
Now, the talk show hosts and editorials are accusing some of Israel's highest government officials of lying. Yes, it is apparent that there is denial going on as people are trying to watch their skins – but there are also wolves in the pac who are apparently seizing on the opportunity to bring down some rivals – and some are eluding to the Prime Minister himself as a target.
I suppose it is a fair comment to say that the handling of this matter could fall under 'endangering national security', but even Mr. Netanyahu has said now, “We'll do things differently next time”.
Another figure has come out with a telling statement; Israel's Military Secretary Major General Meir Kalifi, who is thought to have accompanied the Prime Minister on the alleged trip, is being quoted in the press here as having said, “In security issues, it is permissible not to tell the truth”.
This doesn't go over very well with the 'quality government' groups who are trying to change Israel's culture of corruption in government. Just last week two senior Members of Israel's Knesset went to jail for bribery and corruption charges.
So the Major General apparently initiated a cover up, as details began to emerged about the rented plane that Mr. Netanyahu took costing $20,000 roundtrip.
But the main question remains… just who did Mr. Netanyahu meet on Monday and why did his Bureau change its version? The Israeli press believes that the Prime Ministers trip to Russia reflects that secrecy and poor organization are running the office that runs the State.
And what about Moscow… The publicity surrounding the disclosure must have been a bit embarrassing to the Russians and caused some diplomatic damage. But they deny any knowledge of Mr. Netanyahu's supposed visit. To be fair, in my checking of the Arab media, there is one source that says Netanyahu didn't go to Russia, but to an Arab State for urgent talks.
But the last time we had an incident similar to this was two years ago when then Prime Minister Ehud Olmert flew off to Russia to talk face to face with it's (then) president Vladimir Putin about his comments on Iran after a visit there. Mr. Olmert kept the trip a secret until a few hours before and did not allow the press to come.
This is a sensitive time here in the Middle East… people are beginning to sit on the edge of their seats over the issue of Iran.
But for now the press is pressing the issue – even to the point of questioning Israel's Military Censor – who must clear all related material before publications here – allowing for the story to break.
I guess they too, did not know the Prime Minister made the trip.
Middle East Correspondent