Historical Dictionary of Israeli Intelligence

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ing that officers of the Israeli army, his own creation, would be capa-
ble of committing such a dishonest act as framing Lavon.
Several commissions were formed in Israel to investigate the Bad
Business, but they failed to reach any clear-cut conclusions as to who
gave the order and who was responsible for the fiasco. One commis-
sion, the Committee of Sevenformed in 1960, was composed of
seven members of the Israeli cabinet. The ministers were tasked to in-
vestigate the matter and revealed the forging of a document used by
Moshe Dayan and Shimon Peres, then deputy minister of defense, to
deflect to Lavon responsibility for the botched 1954 Egyptian opera-
tion. A subsequent hearing revealed that Peres, Dayan, and Gibli
were involved. The committee’s findings were accepted by the gov-
ernment. In the subsequent 1961 elections, Ben-Gurion declared that
he would accept office only if Lavon was dismissed from his new po-
sition as head of the Histadrut, Israel’s labor union federation. De-
spite attempts to censor the details of the case on account of national
security, the Lavon Affair led to a second scandal, and Ben-Gurion’s
resignation on 16 June 1963, on the allegation that the government’s
inability to decide the matter was due to political considerations. The
Israeli public reacted with outrage when they learned the truth about
the conspiracy. Ben-Gurion’s attempts to have his own political party,
Mapai (the Israeli Workers party), resolve this issue in 1964–1965
likewise went awry, and he was forced to leave the party as well.
The question “Who gave the order?” has been asked again and
again by the Israeli public, and it seems that the answer will never be
known for sure. Yet a more important question that should be asked
is who was responsible for the “Bad Business” even if it was not that
person who actually gave the order. The answer to this question is
clear-cut: In its role as the supreme commander of IDF, the Israeli
government bears the ultimate responsibility for all Military Intelli-
gence failures, including this one. This applies to the minister of de-
fense even if he did not give the specific order.
In the aftermath of the Sinai Campaign in October 1956, it
seemed reasonable to expect negotiations for the release of the pris-
oners of the Jewish espionage network. Israel held more than 5,500
Egyptian prisoners of war (POWs) after its conquest of the Sinai
Peninsula. Among the most senior of them was General Fuad el
Digwi, who had been the presiding judge at the trial of the members


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