Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch addresses Jerusalem’s security situation December 2 while overlooking Jabl Mukaber.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch is in a rather impossible position these days, stuck between a rock and a very hard place that speaks Hebrew with a Moldovan accent.
His nearly six years as head of the ministry in charge of the Israel Police have been marred by police scandals, as well as a series of brazen mafia killings across Israel last year. Still, the past two weeks may have been one of the hardest times he’s had in office, and things don’t look promising in the coming months either.
Aharonovitch is in charge of the Public Security Ministry while the police are publicly running their flagship public corruption case, which is shaping up to be one of the biggest in the history of Israel. Because the investigation centers on MKs and officials from his own party, he was not made aware of the case over the course of the entire year, according to the police in order to avoid a conflict of interests.
In that sense, he is in the best case a sort of lame duck, unable to take part in possibly the largest case in his time in office, something that must be embarrassing for a minister.
On the other hand, there are elections coming up, and with the case wreaking havoc on Yisrael Beytenu, party head Avigdor Liberman needs all of his soldiers to fall in line. This puts Aharonovitch, No. 3 on the party list, in the uncomfortable position of having to toe the party line that the investigation is politically motivated and driven by people with an interest in hurting the party.
This is what Aharonovitch did Saturday, casting doubt on the timing of the investigation and its chances of ending in indictments, just a few days after he publicly issued his support for the police investigators and officials from the State Prosecutor’s Office running the case.
In other words, in order to show his loyalty to the party with elections just a few months off, he has to throw the police under the Yisrael Beytenu bus, the very same officers that he has for the past almost six years fought for repeatedly in the Knesset, in the court of public opinion, and in the media.
Much has been made in recent months about tension behind the scenes between Aharonovitch and Israel Police chief Insp.-Gen. Yohanan Danino.
In possibly another symptom of this tension, the former head of the Investigations Branch of the police, Yoav Segelovitz, a close friend and confidant of Danino’s for many years, said last week it was unacceptable that Aharonovitch had not come out publicly to criticize Liberman’s statement that the investigation was political in nature.
Voices calling for Aharonovitch to resign from the ministry amid the ongoing investigation may increase in the coming months. Whether or not he heeds this call, as long as he is in the ministry he will be on the hot seat, constantly trying to balance between his loyalty to his embattled party and its leader, and to the police force he is in charge of supporting.
It can’t be easy.