Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) congratulates new police commissioner Roni Alsheich after he received his ranks during a ceremony in Jerusalem December 3, 2015..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A heavy shadow was cast over police investigations and recommendations whether or not to indict the prime minister, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posted on Facebook early Thursday.
Netanyahu addressed remarks made by Police Commissioner Insp.-Gen. Roni Alsheich in the investigative journalism TV show Uvda, in which he said that a "powerful figure" had hired “private investigators who had been collecting information against police officers involved in ongoing investigations into the prime minister.”
Responding to the claims, Netanyahu wrote on social media: “It’s shocking to see that he is repeating the outlandish and false claim that [I] supposedly used private investigators against police officers.”
“Every decent person will ask himself: How can people who say such outlandish things regarding the prime minister then question him objectively and be impartial when it is time to reach a decision about him?” Netanyahu asked.
Alsheikh said that “it is a fact” that private investigators began collecting information on police officers involved in the Netanyahu cases and their families.
“We’re not talking about a conspiratorial mind here,” said Alsheikh, “these are facts.”
He added that since he went public with this information the private investigators stopped their inquiries.
Alsheikh was quick to mention that he did not say the private investigators were working for politicians, only “powerful figures.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu wrote on social media that “a big shadow has been cast over police inquiries and recommendations” regarding his conduct and called for an immediate objective inquiry into the matter. Ahead of expected police recommendations on whether or not to indict Netanyahu in two corruption probes, Case 1000 and Case 2000.
On Wednesday Netanyahu published a video in which he dismissed the importance of the expected police’s recommendations to indict him, stressing that it is up to the attorney-general to decide.
“Many of you are asking – what will be [in the future]?” Netanyahu asked in the video. “So I want to reassure you, there will be nothing because I know the truth.
“The State of Israel is a state of law, and the law in Israel says that the person to determine whether there is alleged evidence against the prime minister is the attorney-general, and he consults with the state attorney,” he said.
Netanyahu then added that State Attorney Shai Nitzan, the head of the state prosecution, said in a Knesset discussion recently that more than half of cases in which the police recommend indictments are closed with no indictment at all.
“So don’t worry,” Netanyahu said sarcastically. “There will be recommendations [to indict], and also signs reading ‘Bibi is guilty until proven otherwise,’” he said, criticizing signs that were spotted at the ongoing Saturday night anti-corruption protests in Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit’s neighborhood in Petah Tikva and on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv.
“But I am certain that at the end of the day, the legal authorities can only reach one conclusion, the simple truth: There is nothing [to the allegations],” Netanyahu concluded.
Labor Chairman Avi Gabbay slammed Netanyahu’s remarks against the commissioner, saying that he is acting “like a thug.”
“[When acting like this,] Netanyahu is humiliating us, the citizens of Israel,” Gabbay said. The attack against the commissioner is illegitimate. Instead of demanding to end the investigation as quickly as possible, Netanyahu chooses to go out against the commissioner, and by that he tried to harm the citizens’ confidence in the law enforcement authorities.
I am expecting the prime minister to apologize to the public,” he said.
Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid reiterated the same notions and said, “Netanyahu’s attack on the commissioner before announcing the recommendations is a desperate act of a subject of an investigation who decided to use his high position in order to threaten the rule of law, and to dismiss the credibility of police, who protect us all.”
Netanyahu is a suspect in two corruption cases. In Case 1000 (the “gifts affair”), police suspect that Netanyahu and his wife Sara received presents worth hundreds of thousands of shekels from various businessmen, and in return, the prime minister used his influence to benefit them.
One of these businessmen is Israeli Hollywood movie producer Arnon Milchan.
In a recent Channel 10 News report, it was revealed that during a meeting to discuss how Netanyahu could help him in extending his US visa, the latter asked him: “Where are my cigars?”
In Case 2000 (the “Yedioth Aharnot affair”), it is suspected that Netanyahu negotiated with Yediot Aharonot newspaper publisher Arnon “Noni” Mozes for favorable coverage in exchange for support of a bill to weaken Israel Hayom, the highest circulation Hebrew-language paper, and Yediot’s biggest competitor.
Channel 2 News reported on Wednesday that in Case 1000, the team investigating Netanyahu is expected to recommend to indict the prime minister for accepting bribes, fraud and breach of trust. In Case 2000, the team is not planning to present any recommendations, but rather to leave it up to the state prosecution to decide.