Knesset committee may summon police investigator over comments on PM

MKs on the right demanded an investigation into one police investigator's controversial statement, while MKs on the left questioned the prime minister's statements about police.

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February 12, 2018 15:21
2 minute read.
Knesset committee may summon police investigator over comments on PM

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pins the rank of police commissioner on Roni Alsheich with help from Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan in December 2015. (photo credit: COURTESY ISRAEL POLICE)

MKs called on Knesset Interior Committee chairman Yoav Kisch (Likud) on Monday to summon Police Commissioner Insp.-Gen. Roni Alsheich to discuss his complaints of attempted obstruction of the ongoing investigation into alleged corruption by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Alsheich said in an interview with the TV program Uvda last week that “powerful factors” hired private investigators to dig up information about police investigators who were working on cases related to Netanyahu. His comment, made as the police were reportedly drafting their recommendations to the attorney-general on whether to indict the prime minister, sparked a political maelstrom.

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Only the State Control Committee has subpoena power, but the Interior Committee, which discusses police matters, can invite the commissioner to appear before them.

Bayit Yehudi MK Bezalel Smotrich said, “Whoever cares about the State of Israel should not sleep well at night in light of what was said... Whether what he said about the prime minister’s associates are true or not, it is no less than an earthquake. Either way, they should be examined in depth.”

Smotrich said the chief of police and prime minister “publicly exchanging blows” decreases trust in law enforcement and the political system.

“I think the Knesset, which is responsible for overseeing the executive branch, cannot sit silently in light of what is happening, and I ask that the Knesset discuss it,” Smotrich wrote. “I think an independent commission of inquiry is necessary to overturn every stone and investigate the truth.”

Likud MK Miki Zohar said Alsheich’s comments made him doubt the integrity of the investigation, and also called on the Interior Committee to summon him.

“On the one hand, if we believe police investigators that the prime minister or his associates acted against them personally and sent private investigators to follow them, how can they continue investigating [Netanyahu] and submit recommendations in an objective, unbiased way?” Zohar asked. “On the other, if there are people hostile to the prime minister who want him removed at any price, could it be that they put pressure on the investigators to accuse the prime minister at any price?”

The opposition focused on Netanyahu’s Facebook posts denying the allegations.

“Stop attacking law enforcement and the police,” Zionist Union leader Avi Gabbay said in a faction meeting. “The public has a right to know if its prime minister is a criminal... I call on the police commissioner and attorney-general to publicize the recommendations.”

Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid pointed out that Alsheich never directly said Netanyahu hired private investigators.

“The fact that the prime minister is writing one Facebook post after another shows he’s just busy with his own problems,” Lapid said.


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