Defense Minister Benny Gantz sent a scathing letter on Thursday, to both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Director of the National Security Council Meir Ben-Shabbat, after reports of the latter's conversation with Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin came to light.
According to Gantz, the conversation between Ben-Shabbat and Norkin constitutes circumvention of authority, since procedures dictate that the National Security Council must first coordinate with the Office of the Chief of Staff and the Defense Ministry before speaking to any senior military officials.
According to the reports, Norkin may face reprimand for his failure to report the conversation to his superior officer, Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi.
Ben Shabbat called the airforce chief to hear his view on the possibility of the sale of F-35 fighter jets to the UAE. Norkin vehemently objected to such a possibility in line with the IDF's long-standing policy objecting to advanced weaponry in the hands of to Arab states.
It seems Ben Shabbat kept information on the pending agreement between the two countries from Norkin, who was kept in the dark also on the UAE's demand for F-35 fighter jets in exchange for agreeing to sign an agreement with Israel.
The National Security Council and the prime minister apparently hid the agreement with the Gulf state from senior members of the Defense establishment despite the security implications of such a deal.
While discussions between the NSC, state officials and senior military officials are commonplace and sometimes occur on a daily basis, they had always followed protocol, which dictates both the Chief of Staff and the Defense Ministry must first be informed.
The Prime Minister's Office stated on Wednesday: "The NSC chief has the right to consult with military bodies of his choice. There was no need for further discussion."