Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu listens to Avichai Mandelblit.
(photo credit: ABIR SULTAN/POOL/VIA REUTERS)
Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit late Sunday published a letter denying that Benjamin Netanyahu had told him the secret about why the prime minister green-lighted Germany's desire to sell submarines to Egypt.
Netanyahu and the Likud had said in interviews over the weekend that Mandelblit knew the classified reason why the prime minister removed Israel's opposition to Germany selling Egypt submarines and had found his reason lawful.
The issue is a hot-button one because Blue and White party leaders have said that Netanyahu endangered Israeli national security with that and other decision in the Submarine Affair, keeping the defense establishment in the dark, purely for the sake of personal benefit.
In contrast, Mandelblit sent a latter to the Movement for the Quality of Government in Israel explaining that all Netanyahu had done was told police that he had a secret reason for green-lighting the sale.
Netanyahu also offered to tell Mandelblit and State Attorney Shai Nitzan the secret reason in private.
However, Mandelblit explained that since Netanyahu was only questioned as a witness in Case 3000, the Submarine Affair, and not as a suspect, they decided at the time it was unnecessary to meet with the prime minister over the issue.
It was unclear if Mandelblit will demand Netanyahu now reveal the alleged secret basis for green-lighting the deal now that he recently opened a new initial review of the prime minister's conduct in the Submarine Affair based on information which only emerged in February.
Netanyahu was not a suspect when the police gave their full report on Case 3000 to Mandelblit in November. The Jerusalem Post
has also spoken to sources indicating that one reason Netanyahu might have gone along with the Egypt deal was that it was expected that Egypt would succeed in acquiring submarines. In that case, it was preferred that they acquire a design Israel was familiar with as opposed to a less familiar design from Japan, France, South Korea or others.
Some sources even said that Netanyahu’s decision appears to have been sound after-the-fact.
Explanations of why Netanyahu did not update the defense ministry are hazier, but there are possible explanations which would not violate the law.
The Likud responded by expressing satisfaction that in his statement, the attorney-general wrote that the sale of submarines to Germany was solely a security issue and that Netanyahu offered to update him on the classified information but Mandelblit told him there was no need.
Netanyahu spoke to Mandelblit from Washington on Sunday and offered to brief him upon his retun on the classified information.
Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.
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