On a normal day, Israelis couldn’t care less about their politicians’ whereabouts. Today, however, it’s all that people are talking about. Where did Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu get to for 12 hours on Monday during which he apparently vanished?
He reportedly left his office on Monday morning without saying where he was going, all appointments canceled.
On Tuesday, after he had resurfaced, Palestinian newspaper Al Manar suggested that he had gone for talks in an Arab state that doesn’t have ties with Israel.
Then yesterday, the widest-circulation newspaper Yediot Achronot claimed that he had flown to Russia to talk about planned arms sales to Iran. He had, the report said, decided not to use an Israeli Air Force jet and instead leased a private jet from millionaire Yossi Meiman’s Merhav Group. The Yediot story is summarized here.
The Prime Minister’s office insists that Bibi didn’t leave Israel but rather was visiting a security installation inside Israel, though there was a most odd admission by Meir Kalifi, Military Secretary to the Prime Minister, to Channel 2 yesterday that “in matters of national security, I take the prerogative of not saying the whole truth.”
Up until a few hours ago the Kremlin said it knew nothing about a Russia visit, but confirmation now appears to be leaking out — the Russian paper Kommersant is quoting a senior Kremlin official saying Bibi did indeed go to Russia. If you can’t make sense of Kommersant’s site because it’s in Russian, the Jerusalem Post has the story here. Kommersant quoted experts speculating that such a trip would only be justified under extraordinary circumstances, “for example, in the case of Israel planning to attack Iran.”
According to this report on Ynet, even following the Kommersant report the Prime Minister’s office is standing by its version of events, claiming: “The Prime Minister was busy with secret, classified activity. The military secretary took his own initiative to defend this activity.”