(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The decision to go public with an investigation into allegations of corruption among high-ranking members of Yisrael Beytenu had nothing to do with the upcoming elections, National Police Commissioner Insp.-Gen. Yohanan Danino said Monday.
“The timing of the decision to go public after more than a year shows we planned this long before the date of the elections was set,” Danino said, adding that the arrests were made and the gag order lifted “after we collected evidence that was strong enough” and due to “professional considerations.”
Officials within Yisrael Beytenu, including party head Avigdor Liberman, have alleged that the arrests and publicity were part of an effort by party enemies to hurt its chances in the coming elections. Speaking during a conference at the Peres Center for Peace in Jaffa, Danino called on his officers to ignore such claims.
“I want to send a message to all of those investigators taking part in the case: Ignore the background noise; focus on the professional work you do and the path you are on, which you have handled up to now with professionalism and determination.”
Speaking at the same conference, which dealt with policing in Israel, former president Shimon Peres said corruption in the country had reached an alarming level.
“The breadth and sophistication of corruption in Israel has surprised all of us and stands to cause despair for the citizenry,” Peres said. He described “the war against corruption” as a test for the Israel Police, one it must carry out without showing any favoritism.
The case in question revolves around police allegations that Yisrael Beytenu Deputy Interior Minister Faina Kirschenbaum and other party officials created a system wherein they would send state funds to NGOs and local authorities in exchange for “commissions,” or with the understanding that these bodies would provide jobs for their associates On Monday, one of the suspects in the case, advertising executive Alex Goldstein, was released to house arrest.