Security chiefs slam Netanyahu over planned cyber defense body


Leaders of Israel’s security establishment sent an angry letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warning against the establishment of a planned National Cyber Authority, according to a Monday report.

The letter signed by Mossad head Yossi Cohen, Shin Bet head Nadav Argaman, IDF deputy chief of staff Yair Golan and Defense Ministry director general Udi Adam warns Netanyahu that in its current proposed form, the cyber authority would cause “severe harm to the security of the State of Israel.”

The letter was revealed by Channel 2 news. There was no immediate response or confirmation.

In August 2016, the Knesset proposed reforming the National Cyber Authority, which was designed to bring together country’s various cyber defense groups under one umbrella.

The authority would monitor the cyber defenses of the IDF and the Mossad, as well as the Electric Corporation and the Water Authority, among other tasks.

The body had originally been created in February 2015, but did not officially receive any powers or responsibility under Israeli law. The August 2016 reform was meant to address this issue.

The legislation amended an existing law, which formally allowed the prime minister to appoint a head of the National Cyber Authority who would serve as the “authorized officer” for issues concerning national cyber defense. Under a temporary order in place until 2018, Baruch Carmeli was named head of the National Cyber Authority.

The defense and intelligence heads were allegedly promised that the cyber authority would be established in full cooperation with them, but realized this would not be the case when the bill was drafted last summer. They detailed their frustration in last week’s letter.

“The draft law seeks to grant extensive powers to the cyber authority, the purpose of which is not clearly defined,” they wrote, according to a copy of the letter published by the station.

They demanded an immediate cessation of the legislation’s advancement and for the construction of a new law more suited to Israel’s security needs.

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