BREAKING: Russia Plans Dirty Ops Campaign on Behalf of Netanyahu, Pressured Lieberman to Resign and Topple Government
חשיפה: השב”כ חושד שרוסיה היא שגרמה להקדמת הבחירות (כדי לסייע לנתניהו), בכך שלחצה על ליברמן להתפטר
A confidential Israeli security source tells me that the recent resignation of Avigdor Lieberman from the governing coalition was not motivated by his dissatisfaction with Israeli policy toward Gaza, as the former defense minister stated at the time. Rather, he was told to resign by Russian officials. The latter want to aid Bibi Netanyahu in his effort to retain power in upcoming elections. The sooner elections happen, the harder it may be for Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to pursue the four sets of corruption charges facing Netanyahu. Within weeks of Lieberman’s resignation, the prime minister did dissolve his government and call for new elections to be held in April. Now he is pressuring the AG not to announce any indictments until after the election. Doing so would guarantee he would remain in office, making it much harder to force his resignation.
The goal of both Bibi and the Russians was to use the Lieberman feint as a distraction which would divert from the real goal, which was to enable the Israeli leader to call new elections.
Israeli media today reported (Hebrew and Haaretz in English) a related story about a speech delivered yesterday by Shin Bet chief, Nadav Argaman. In it, he released a veritable bombshell: he expected a “foreign country” would attempt to sabotage the upcoming Israeli election. Military censorship prohibits Israeli media from reporting the identity of that nation, but my source confirmed that it is Russia. Putin’s goal is to help Netanyahu remain in power (more on this to follow below). Argaman said that the methods used would be cyber-hacking and other sorts of online attacks.
Meretz’s Party chair, Tamar Zandberg, tiptoed perilously close to the line of violating military censorship when she told a reporter: “We demand that the security services guarantee that Putin will not steal on behalf of his pal, the despot, Netanyahu.”
Given Russia’s role in our last elections, one can expect the exposure of personal secrets and compromising information about key Israeli leaders which would damage their election prospects. Another major target would be either the police, State prosecutor or especially, the attorney general. The divulgence of secret internal deliberations by the Israeli justice system on the Netanyahu case could have a major impact on discrediting both the legal process and any charges to be filed against the PM. There may also be personally compromising information on the key figures involved in the investigation. A second target might be Naftali Bennett, since he appears to be poised as the prime minister’s former chief of staff and most powerful rival currently. A similar social media campaign to the one the Russians orchestrated to deter Clinton voters from going to the polls, could be used to turn off voters intending to choose candidates and parties competing with Likud.
Given that Lieberman initiated the process of weakening the government, he might be a beneficiary. However, his Party currently does not appear to pose any serious threat to the Likud. He appears more of an errand boy delivering the goods for his Russian masters.
Lest anyone doubt Lieberman’s close relationship with Russian intelligence, I’ve written a number of stories revealing that the Shin Bet does not trust Lieberman, and that they refused to deliver briefings to him on highly sensitive matters. Many in the Israeli intelligence community believe he is a Russian asset, perhaps cultivated even before he emigrated from Moldova to Israel decades ago.
Speculating on Russia’s motivation offers several possibilities. More than any other country, Netanyahu has cultivated extremely close relations with the Russians. It seems that every six months he makes a pilgrimage to Moscow ostensibly to lobby for Russia to sever its ties to Iran and exert what control it could in order to restrain Iranian military interests in Syria. This tight relationship has largely (with a notable exception) kept the two major powers from direct conflict in that country, even though territorially their forces are in quite close proximity to each other.
Russia is loyal to its assets, and as long as Netanyahu retains power there is much he can offer Putin, and vice versa. Nonetheless, I don’t see any major change in relations between Israel and Russia if Netanyahu were to resign and be replaced by a rival like Bennett or any number of Likud proteges. They would all seek continuity in the relationship and probably not rock the boat.
The question most Israelis will ask is how did Russia engineer this interference in the Israeli political process? What did Bibi know and when did he know it? Certainly, the Israeli leader is smart enough not to have left his fingerprints on any of this. If there was collusion, an intermediary likely negotiated on his behalf. You might have thought Bibi would’ve exhausted all available intermediaries. Some are in prison, on their way to prison, or serving a state’s witnesses against him in his corruption cases. But there appear to be some he holds in reserve, who are still willing to do his bidding.
It is possible that the Shin Bet already possesses evidence of such collusion. Argaman’s semi-private talk may have been intended as a shot across Bibi’s bow, warning him that if the Russians do intervene they have evidence that would implicate him. That would be an excellent way to hold the Russians at bay.
What might the security service’s goal in releasing this information now? In a normal Israeli government the intelligence services generally, except in unusual circumstances, take the lead from the political leadership. There are of course some situations in which they have gone rogue and exceeded or ignored civilian control. But in this particular case, I speculate that the security agencies themselves are aghast at Netanyahu’s virulent attacks on their colleagues in the police and justice system (who they work with intensively on a continual basis). They likely believe that Netanyahu has exceeded all norms of conduct and worry that he could further erode the security system itself in service to his own survival. They are aware of the havoc the Russians wrought in the U.S. election system and refuse to permit this possibility for Israel.
Another important question: how did Shabak gain access to this intelligence information? There are two possibilities: SIGINT or human assets. The IDF’s Unit 8200 rivals the NSA in its technical prowess. It could either have directly spied on Russian cyber-intelligence; or it could have hacked into their computer systems. However, the Shin Bet is far better known for recruiting human agents and infiltrating foreign governments and intelligence agencies. It may be possible that it recruited a Russian cyber-hacker or that it recruited a double agent who is playing both sides against the middle as Boris Krasny did when he served ostensibly as a KGB agent in Israel, while in reality he was a Shin Bet agent who exposed one of the Russian’s highest-level Israeli agents.
For those whose memories go all the way back to 2016, you’ll recall charges that the Trump campaign colluded with Russian intelligence interests in releasing internal e-mails of the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign. In addition, cyber trolls working on behalf of the intelligence apparatus created thousands of fake social media profiles designed to gin up racial conflict and deter Democratic voters from going to the polls. It was a raging success. Most analysts and U.S. intelligence figures believe these combined efforts cost Clinton an election victory.
Israelis should learn from our disasters. It happened here. It could happen there. Heed Argaman’s warning before it’s too late.
28 thoughts on “BREAKING: Russia Plans Dirty Ops Campaign on Behalf of Netanyahu, Pressured Lieberman to Resign and Topple Government – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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” He [Lieberman] appears more of an errand boy delivering the goods for his Russian masters.”
A sitting Defense Minister resigns all that power and prestige just to please his Russian masters?
Seems a bit far-fetched.
@ Sho Time: Lieberman has been foreign minister and defense minister. He will be a minister again. He doesn’t lose anything by resigning that he won’t regain in the future.
What if his party doesn’t passes the minimum required? Will he be a minister again?
You analysis is illogical!
@ Seth Eller: What if an asteroid hits earth and turns us all to carbon? The likelihood of Lieberman being shut out of the Knesset is only slightly greater than this possibility. He and his Party have been in every Knesset since they were launched. He is certainly not as popular as he once was. But that is true of almost all Israeli politicians who pass their sell-by date relatively quickly. But he retains the loyalty of a significant minority of Israeli voters who will not abandon him no matter what.
Please stop wasting my time on nonsense.
Israeli fighter jets used a Russian military plane as a decoy to shield itself from SAA SAMs, resulting in the death of 15 Russian military members on that plane when it was hit by the SAM. In a second attack, the IDF used two civilian airliners landing at Damascus and Beirut as shields. The Russians protested strongly about this. And the Russians are helping the Israeli regime? Give me a break.
I have a great appreciation of you and read your articles constantly but this time I wonder…feel so perplex…
Why should Lieberman do that? You wrote he “wants to aid Bibi Netanyahu in his effort to retain power in upcoming elections…” Bah! Is this credible?
You wrote:”The goal of both Bibi and the Russians was to use the Lieberman feint as a distraction which would divert from the real goal, which was to enable the Israeli leader to call new elections.” In what new election would be beneficial for Russian…and in what and why should Bibi be beneficial to the Russian….That is not clear to me…Kindly let me know…I am curious. Thank you!
The entire post is an explanation of the ways in which Israel and Russia, and specifically Putin and Bibi scratch each other’s back. If you can’t figure this out, sorry but not my problem. It’s in the post.
@ Meriem: Ah yes, leave it to Putin’s pals to regale us with Russian fairy tales. These denials from Peskov are about as credible as IDF denials of its own culpability in murders it regularly commits against Palestinians.
It would make easier believe these now suddenly everywhere out poping Putin supporting Netanyahu and wanting him to continue claims + election interference claims, if somebody would explain what are Putin’s motivations and geopolitical needs to save Netanyahu. Russia needs the Syrian bases and calming Syria’s civil war as their diplomatic-military “thesis” in the less western future of Middle East = a strong Syria. Nobody would believe claims that Putin does this in order replacing US influence in Israel with Russian and capturing Israel in the Russian camp. Israel controls USA and the Israeli and part of US elite would never allow that asset to be lost. Israel, with all its unsolvable problems with Palestinians and the region, is a huge burden to US foreign policy. Why would Russia take all that responsibility and discredit that relation brings? Not to mention the billions USA is forced to pay yearly to Israel. Iran is for Russia a major ally and interesting business partner in oil and gas trade, for Netanyahu’s Israel the needed main foe at least in speeches. The only way to see Putin and Russia liking to see Israel been lead by extreme Zionist like Netanyahu is that they know the more violently Israel acts, the shorter will the country’s history be and the pain that process creates hurts mostly USA.
“Many in the Israeli intelligence community believe he is a Russian asset, perhaps cultivated even before he emigrated from Moldova to Israel decades ago.”
Lieberman was just 20 years old when he and his family moved to Israel in the year 1978. Was he really then a trained KGB or GRU agent?
Lieberman has served as Minister of National Infrastructure, Minister of Transportation, Minister of Strategic Affairs, Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign Affairs Minister, and Minister of Defense. Are we seriously demanded to swallow, that he was a secret soviet agent and the Israeli and US intelligence organisations had not inspected every possible angle of his “movements”, contacts and meetings with Russians in Russia and Israel. If Lieberman was that agent, then he is one of world history’s most successful agents and the Israeli and US intelligence organisations were and are totally incompetent (which they are not).
@ SimoHurtta: There’s a fundamental misconception in the comments of those who disbelieve my source. He doesn’t have to explain the rationale of the actors on whom he’s reporting. He’s explaining what they actually did. And he knows they did it because of the unit and position in which he serves. So why Bibi would do this or the Russians would do that is incidental to his own calculations. You may disagree or seek to adjust his reporting, but you are doing so based on pure personal speculation and he is doing so on actual evidence. It would be more fruitful if you would accept the outlines of what he’s reporting and then try to figure out why these figures would be doing what they’re doing, rather than spinning alternate narratives or counter-narratives.
Of course, no one is forcing you to believe anything you don’t wish to believe. But your speculation without solid proof doesn’t amount to much.
As for Putin’s motivation: he does not want or need Israel to be a Russsian satellite. Nor is he so stupid as to demand this as he has in Crimea. But he does need Israel to be quiescent when Russian interests are involved. Helping Bibi stay in power will stand Putin in good stead over the coming four years in Syria and elsewhere, if Bibi lasts that long.
Boris Krasny and most of the Russian Jews who emigrated to Israel were of similar age when they came. You don’t think the KGB would recruit a 20 year old about to make his way to Israel? How naive of you. Nor did I say he was trained. Only that he was recruited. Those who were recruited to spy against Israel were more assets than they were agents. Krasny probably remains a Russian asset, and probably could not be considered an “agent.”
If you don’t believe KGB infiltration of Israel at the very highest levels you need to read Ronen Bergman’s accounts of this and my reports here. The Russians had Israeli assets who were senior Party leaders, generals, academics, and journalists. And yes, Liebeerman’s movements and actions are certainly monitored in great detail by Israeli intelligence and any other foreign intelligence service interested in Russian intelligence operations. YOu forget that there may be instances in which it is useful for Israel to have someone who is a known Russian asset who may negotiate and do things in secret that a more conspicuous Israeli could not do.
Applying ‘Occam’s razor’, it is more likely that Russia’s real aim is simply to destabilise and weaken Israel, same as it did in America in 2016.
Nothing as complicated as a Manchurian candidate, and no ‘collusion’ with Bibi.
Israel has demonstrably proven that it did not use a Russian plane for cover. The Israeli planes had already completed their bombing mission and were returning home when the Russian plane was shot down by an inept Syrian air defense.
@ Sho Time: To any commenters who don’t believe or accept the narrative offered by my source note this, he has proven correct in every story he’s offered. And he’s offered scores if not hundreds. So he’s reporting what he KNOWS based on evidence. He’s not reporting theories, beliefs or opinions. So if you wish to attenuate his report know that you’re doing so based on pure personal speculation and his material as conveyed to me is not. If I had to choose, I know who I would prefer.
This isn’t another break of a gag order where all Israeli reporters know the information but are forbidden from reporting it. Lieberman has more than enough enemies who would have loved to bring up these explosive allegations and try and destroy him politically.
Can you please share another story from this source. Once again, not a gag order scoops which don’t make your source reliable for the sort of information you publish in the current post.
Try punctuation next time. Without it, your comment is indecipherable.
My source doesn’t obey your requirements. He doesn’t aim to prove anything to you. His information is reliable and had been proven do scores of times.
I wasn’t aware Netanyahu could lose the upcoming election. Russia and Israel share many common interests and are adversaries in some more: occupation (Crimea/West Bank) – oligarchs – corruption – Chabad – Ukraine. I don’t think Putin or Russia relies on Netanyahu staying in power.
Russia as the main culprit in HRC’s defeat?
Highly unlikely, I’m not buying the DNC-IC joint effort to put all blame on Russia. The Dutch AIVD/MIVD was fully aware of Cozy Bear as their cyber experts hacked into their Moscow operation in the summer of 2014 and shared all with the FBI for years.
Which nations wanted the Republicans to win (no matter which candidate)? Indeed: Israel – Russia – UAE – KSA – UK. Which nation profited the most from the Trump win? Yes, Israel. See the fingerprints of Cambridge Analytica – Facebook – Erik Prince – Abu Dhabi.
Ukraine and Poroshenko bet on the wrong horse. The UA state and their minions of the SBU did all to influence the American voters with bots, hacks and media. The Congressional investigation were permitted just a single focus, other nations were out of bounds. The Mueller investigation has no such limitation.
[comment deleted: this is precisely the sort of meandering controversy that is spewed whenever I write about Russia. So anyone here who wants to do this, if you do not stick very closely to the topic of the post, I will either delete your comment or possibly warn you of a comment rule violation. Stay strictly on topic, especially in contentious threads like this. I have no interest in arguing the ins and outs of Russia, Ukraine, etc. I have no interest in hearing defenses or apologias for Putin or his ilk. Save it for another blog or comment thread.]
I have no beef about that! Perhaps I should have used the term that escapes the UN Charter principles of a sovereign nation?
It’s in Israel’s interest to stay more friendly with Putin’s Russia than the Western view on Ukraine and the Maidan Revolt …
Israel and Russia: Crimea seems a helpful distraction | The Economist – March 2014 |
In spy wars, Israel chooses Russia over UK, but Trump could play spoiler | Times of Israel – March 2018 |
Then came Sept. 2018: Downing of Russian military plane in Syria tests Netanyahu-Putin relationship …
@ Oui: Bibi will not lose the election. He might be indicted and then forced to resign. But if he lasts as long as the election, it’s almost guaranteed he will win. That’s not to say if enough dark matter is exposed he wouldn’t be forced to resign at a later date…
Dutch AIVD and MIVD have close cooperation with Intelligence Agencies from the Western world: GCHQ, NSA, FBI and Mossad (special privileges @Schiphol). The Dutch are world class in phone intercepts with special appreciation to Israel’s Verint. The Dutch play a role in satellite intercepts as partner in the AngloSaxon Nine Eyes network.
Close cooperation Dutch cyberteam and FBI in major espionage operations from intercepts of El Chapo’s encrypted Blackberry phone calls, to operation taking down criminal Dark Web markets and intrusion into the heart of Russia’s Cozy Bear operation in Moscow.
Dutch THCT Cooperated with Sergei Mikhailov (FSB) * THTC : Team High Tech Crime
Since 2009, regular meetings are held in the Netherlands, in which also officials from the FBI participate. The aim is to cooperate in tracking down and eventually arresting cyber criminals.
The cooperation with the Russians dates back to September 2007, when the head of THTC attended a conference in the Russian city of Khabarovsk, at which CIA, FBI, Mossad, BND and other agencies were present. The head of THTC was able to create a connection to the FSB and their deputy head of the Center for Information Security (TsIB), Sergei Mikhailov, became the liaison for the Dutch police and would regularly visit the Netherlands..
Mikhailov (CIS FSB) under arrest for treason
In 2011-2012 CIS FSB filed a case against the owner of Chronopay Pavel Vrublevsky [see contact with Valerie Pabenko of King-Servers] and a number of its employees. They were accused of organizing a DDoS attack on the server of Aeroflot. On July 31, 2013, a conviction was pronounced in the case. In the course of the trial, the operatives and investigative materials on Pavel Vrublevsky’s case were posted to the Internet by unknown persons, including those that were not submitted to the court. Vrublevsky declared about exerting pressure from Mikhailov on his business and (secretly) transferring information to Western special services.
Today I understand these figures were a conduit for the recent DDoS attack. I haven’t got a clue where to put the blame. At least these are all state representatives close to the intelligence community.
Okay, so why did your source leak this story to you?
This collusion, this conspiracy, that your sources alleges should be a huge story, maybe even front page news in some of the mass media, but so far, your ‘scoop’ has had no traction.
Argaman’s limited, qualified statement about foreign meddling has received attention, but your broader, more specific, and sensational story, has not received the attention it deserves.
Why hasn’t your source leaked this story to a major newspaper, say, to Suddeutsche Zeitung?
@ Sho Time: The intent of your comment is clear, borderline bad faith. But it does raise some interesting issues which are concealed behind your semi-provocative attitude. First, official sources leak for a variety of reasons. They leak some stories and not others based on their own organizations’ interests. They leak to different news outlets depending on other considerations. Sometimes they have a blockbuster story they want the world to know immediately. Other times, the story is more sensitive and they don’t want to be seen as having their fingerprints on it. So they might release it to a smaller outlet that has such influence that it might be picked up by larger news outlets. By the time they pick up the story, the bigger outlets will strip out any identifying information that could be traced back to the original source.
A perfect example is the recent settler murder story, which I was the first to report by naming the suspects and the victim. A week later the LA Times Israel correspondent could file a “breaking story” which offered some of the things mine did (but not all). Of course, she stripped any reference to my reporting and thus the source was obscured for bigger news outlets.
So no, it’s not quite the way you picture it. If security agencies wanted maximum coverage for every story, the NY Times and Haaretz would have nothing but such scoops on their front page all the time. Fortunately, for me, that’s not quite how things work.
As for whether you believe my source or believe me or understand why he would choose to leak to me, I could care less.
[comment deleted: I’m not going to get into a debate with you about scoops or sources. Believe what you want. Or go away. I don’t care either way.]
If Israel became a theocracy dominated by the religious parties, would Putin view that as favorable to his agenda?
@ Zachary: Putin loves religious patriarchs. His cronies took over the RUssian chief rabbinate and installed a Kremlin toady. He’s in like Flynn with the Russian Orthodox Church. What’s not to like for Putin?