Police chief: Netanyahu investigations are close to an end

Herzog demands from the Supreme Court to suspend PM from communications ministry.

January 22, 2017 15:25
2 minute read.
Police Chief Roni Al-Sheikh

Police Chief Roni Alsheich at the Israel Bar Association Conference at the David Intercontinental Hotel in Tel Aviv. (photo credit: NAAMA COHEN FRIEDMAN/ BAR ASSOCIATION SPOKESWOMAN)

The investigation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in its final stretch, Israel Police Commissioner Insp.- Gen. Roni Alsheich said on Sunday.

Alsheich, speaking during a press briefing, said the police had “already reached their conclusions regarding both investigations. We are now giving it the ‘last push’ in order to finish it and not to drag it over a long period of time... I believe that the police involvement in the investigation will be over in several weeks.”

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Investigators questioned the prime minister under caution on January 2 and 5, meaning anything he said could be used as evidence against him, over his alleged involvement in two cases: Case 1000 deals with allegations that Netanyahu received illegal gifts from businessmen – in particular from Rehovot-born international movie mogul Arnon Milchan.

Case 2000 involves taped conversations between Netanyahu and Yediot Aharonot publisher Arnon “Noni” Mozes, in which the two men allegedly attempted to negotiate sympathetic coverage of the prime minister in return for the weakening of Yediot competitor Israel Hayom.

The police chief declined to discuss details on the suspicions against those involved in the two cases and emphasized that the difference between receiving improper gifts and bribery is sometimes a matter of legal semantics.

“Indeed, there can be a situation in which we open an investigation into improper giving of gifts and it turns into a bribery probe,” he said.

Alsheich rejected claims that leaks from the cases came from police sources. “This investigation, because of its public sensitivity, is known to very few police officers, who can almost be counted on one hand.”

Regarding Case 1000, Channel 2 News reported on Friday that Milchan gave Sara Netanyahu, the wife of the prime minister, jewelry worth $8,600 in 2004, when her husband was finance minister. According to the report, Sara had turned to Milchan’s office and demanded that he purchase a necklace and bracelet for her at the Hilton Tel Aviv, where he was staying.

Regarding Case 2000, opposition chairman Isaac Herzog filed a petition to the High Court of Justice on Sunday demanding that Netanyahu be suspended from his position as communications minister.

In the petition, Herzog explains that Netanyahu is currently in a state of conflict of interest.

“The latest media revelations indicate deep involvement of the prime minister, who happens to also be the communications minister, in Israel Hayom, and that situation creates a clear conflict of interest,” Herzog said on Sunday. “It would be the same if a finance minister had a business and personal interest in the biggest bank in the country.

“The prime minister insists on restricting his coalition partners’ [ability to act] on those [communication sector] issues in order to preserve his tremendous power as communications minister,” Herzog added. “Nowadays, if you are in that position, you have great control on the stream of information that goes to the public, and on shaping public opinion. There are more urgent matters that the Israeli communications minister should be dealing with.”

Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.

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