Page last updated at 12:01 GMT, Friday, 11 September 2009 13:01 UK

Papers slam Netanyahu trip 'lies'

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's mysterious absence earlier in the week has prompted speculation in Israeli papers about what he was up to and angry accusations that his office lied about his whereabouts.

Some commentators wondered how much damage he might expose the country to in a future, more serious crisis while others considered how much control he had over his own office, which was allegedly caught up by infighting and a lack of co-ordination. One writer suggested that what lay behind the fiasco was Mr Netanyahu's fear of getting a bad press.

After initially issuing a vague statement about visiting a top-secret Mossad installation inside Israel, Mr Netanyahu kept silent as reports emerged that he flew to Moscow aboard a private jet for urgent talks on Iran.


The press have had a profound impact on Netanyahu's policies and his key decisions... That's why it would not surprise anyone if Netanyahu himself gave the order to cover up his secret trip to Russia this week. The mystery fuelled speculation that could have been averted, had Netanyahu not been too afraid of what the press would say to tell them about it in the first place.


The Netanyahu bureau is divided and caught in the chaos of factions, infighting, battling for a position close to the prime minister and access to information… The most characteristic example of the raucousness in his bureau was provided by the PM himself during his secret trip abroad, which was so classified that even the air force could not be relied on. Netanyahu has the pretension to lead Israel like a great man, with Churchill as his model, but the amateurish and problematic fashion in which his bureau is organised does not enable him to manage a state. If the prime minister does not learn an immediate lesson from its conduct to date, the next big crisis may cause real damage to Israel.


Countries and armies that disseminate lies and half-truths testify to their own weakness.


The interesting point in this affair is not the lie but the naivety: Netanyahu should have known that within a day the real story would land in a journalist's notebook… The second interesting point is the prime minister's bureau. Netanyahu is not happy with the bureau he established despite the fact that he manned it with more aides, eunuchs and butlers than ever before… Some of the people Netanyahu brought in are not suitable… They have no idea about running a state.


What happened this week [7 September] - when PM Binyamin Netanyahu and National Security Advisor Uzi Arad slipped from the Mossad headquarters and flew from Ben Gurion Airport to Russia - crossed all red lines in relations between the PM and the public. The PM's bureau lied to the public… The conduct of the bureau in this affair is plagued with arrogance and abysmal incompetence… It reveals murky relations in the bureau… According to the emerging reality at the prime minister's bureau it is not clear who is wagging who: the tail or the dog.


Look at what happened to the PM on the way to Russia: his credibility, which never achieved great heights, suffered a big blow… The people who man his bureau did not tell the truth... Bibi [Netanyahu] has not changed… Fact: National Security Adviser Uzi Arad is again spreading alarm around him… Add to him the rest of the stars, and you will get a fools' paradise… Does this constitute a danger to the security of the state? This bureau is the danger.


Prime ministers occasionally go on secret visits. First, they brief the media adviser - that's the most critical area… But Netanyahu and senior adviser Uzi Arad decided they knew best and didn't tell media adviser Nir Hefetz where they were going. Their excessive suspicion and paranoia achieved the opposite result… The country was awash with speculation… Something in the Arad-Netanyahu combination isn't working… The PM's men could do with a little less sophistication and a little more human relations, composure and discretion.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.

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