(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Labor MK and aspiring party leader Erel Margalit insisted on Tuesday that his campaign to have Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu investigated for fraud and conflicts of interest was a crucial part of the democratic process and not a political war by other means.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, Margalit said that allegations raised regarding the involvement of Netanyahu’s associates in the acquisition of warships and submarines for the navy required an investigation into the prime minister himself.
The prime minister was questioned under caution on Monday night by the head of the Lahav 433 anti-corruption unit in relation to suspicions that he received illegal gifts from two business associates, as well as a second case the details of which are not yet known.
On December 13, Margalit had lawyers file a letter to Attorney General Avihai Mandelblit demanding that he open an investigation into Netanyahu regarding the acquisition of three submarines and four Saar 6 navy corvettes.
The MK threatened to request such an investigation from the High Court of Justice if the attorney general did not himself begin an investigation.
The corvettes were ordered by the Defense Ministry from German Naval Yards Kiel which will build the ships together with ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems.
ThyssenKrupp is represented in Israel by businessman Miki Ganor whose lawyer is David Shimron, while Shimron is also Netanyahu’s personal attorney.
report found that Shimron was also as a director of a firm advising ThyssenKrupp in 2013, while German Naval Yards Kiel is itself owned in part by the family of Lebanon's Defense Minister Samir Moqbel.
A probe is already underway into Shimron’s role in the acquisition of the submarines, but Margalit argues that his close relationship with Netanyahu requires an investigation into the prime minister himself.
Following Netanyahu’s questioning on Tuesday, Margalit says that he is holding the petition to the High Court for the next few days to see if further details about the investigation are made public.
If however it transpires that the prime minister is not being investigated over the acquisition of the corvettes and submarines, the MK said he would file the petition to the High Court.
“I am looking forward to challenging Netanyahu on a political basis, but when there are so many questions then the public deserves answers,” he said.
“Netanyahu’s people are being tied to these questions and in a democratic country such matters need to be properly investigated.”
The prime minister took to Twitter to defend himself against the allegations, noting that the attorney general said in a statement on Monday night that investigations into four other cases had been dropped.
“Years of daily persecution against me and my family were clarified yesterday as absolutely nothing,” Netanyahu tweeted.
“I repeat again, there won’t be anything because there is nothing,” he said and continued to list the four cases which had been closed.
“Will anyone in the media apologize for the thousands of headlines, articles, hours of broadcast time of ‘investigative journalism at its best’ that transpired to be total nonsense? Definitely not Drucker.”
Channel 10 reporter Raviv Drucker first revealed the possible conflict of interests represented by Shimron’s relationship with the prime minister and his connection to ThyssenKrupp.