Defense discussions at the cabinet will soon open with a warning by cabinet secretary Oved Yehezkel that ministers may face a Shin Bet investigation if classified information is leaked from the meeting.
No more cell phones in cabinet meetings / Ronny Sofer
In effort to reduce government leaks, ministers must hand in their phones before meeting starts
As part of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's fight against government leaks, Yehezkel will read out the legal clause which refers to the leaking of classified information before each cabinet meeting dealing with sensitive materials.
"This clause gives the prime minister permission to take every necessary measure in order to find the person behind the leak," said officials at the Prime Minister's Office. "These measures could include a Shin Bet investigation, and even a lie detector test."
Several ministers told Ynet Thursday morning that the decision to warn them in order to battle leaks was bound to fail. "The decision conveys a sense of panic. There is a very unpleasant feeling that the ministers aren't being trusted," one minister said.
Another minister added that the method of threatening ministers was inappropriate. "A minister who wants to leak something would do so, if not immediately than an hour or two after the meeting. This system should be founded on trust, not on threatening ministers with Shin Bet investigations."
However, PMO officials stated that the new steps were taken as part of the implementation of the Winograd Commission report. "The public discussion surrounding this issue would minimize the phenomenon… we believe that in the long run, the government would benefit from this. The vast majority of the ministers support these measures," a senior PMO official said.