Netanyahu at the INS Rahav submarine arrival ceremony.
(photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)
The German business daily Handelsblatt reported on Monday that the engineering conglomerate ThyssenKrupp concluded that there was no misconduct in a controversial submarine deal between the Federal Republic and Israel.
However, the company announced an internal check in response to the allegations of financial irregularities.
The diplomatic stakes are high, according to the paper, which wrote “the allegations are directed at the highest levels of one of Germany’s most important allies, Israel.”
According to the article, Miki Ganor, the ThyssenKrupp Israeli representative, is slated to receive between 10m. and 30m. Euros for negotiating the submarine deal. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s lawyer and close confidant, David Shimron, was hired by Ganor.
He received a few thousand dollars monthly in a retainer, but he has denied receiving a bonus for the submarine deal.
The head of the Knesset’s State Control Committee, MK Karin Elharar (Yesh Atid), announced on Monday that she would summon Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit to explain why he decided not to open a criminal investigation into the deal. She also summoned Shimron and State’s Attorney Shai Nitzan.
PM Netanyahu at the INS Rahav submarine arrival ceremony
Histadrut labor federation chairman Avi Nissenkorn told Channel 2 that Shimron threatened him that if he did not cooperate with efforts to privatize Israel’s shipyards, he would do it over the heads of the workers. Channel 10 reported that Shimron complained to Defense Ministry Director-General Ahaz Ben-Ari when an international tender was issued for running the shipyards, without saying he was representing the German company.
The report said the former deputy head of the National Security Council, Avriel Bar-Yosef, who is embroiled in a separate criminal investigation, took Ganor to meet the heads of the Haifa port and asked for space at the port.
Netanyahu downplayed the scandal Monday, telling his Likud faction that it was “an empty balloon,” that they should relax, and that he would remain prime minister for a long time.
But the heads of opposition factions said the affair was very serious. The Knesset will vote on Wednesday on a proposal to form a parliamentary commission of inquiry on the submarine deal, opposition leader Isaac Herzog announced in a meeting of his Zionist Union faction.
“Bibi, you are afraid from the light of the sun in your submarine,” Herzog said. “The time has come to give answers to the public.”
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid said he doubted Shimron’s denials that he made money from the submarine deal.
“No one hires the lawyer of the prime minister to handle the largest deal in the state’s history without thinking he can gain from it,” Lapid said.
Lapid also said he doubted Netanyahu’s claims that he did not know Shimron worked for the German company. He said the prime minister must be aware if his confidant had such a conflict of interest.
“They won’t succeed in hiding the submarine story,” Lapid said. “We won’t let it get away.”
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