Police chief and public security minister in war of words on police powers

"I feel that we don't have enough of a platform to express our opinions, but in the end of the day we come to whatever we are invited to," he said.

May 24, 2018 13:33
2 minute read.
Police chief and public security minister in war of words on police powers

Israeli Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)


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Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said on Thursday that he was “disturbed” by Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich’s statement that the police are not consulted enough on security matters.

“I feel that we don't have enough of a platform to express our opinions, but in the end of the day we come to whatever we are invited to,” he said. He said that today he is invited to cabinet meetings less than he used to be.

Alsheich made the remarks at a Friends of Tel Aviv University event on Wednesday night.

Erdan reacted to the comments in an interview with Army Radio on Thursday morning.

“This statement is disturbing,” said Erdan. “The police commissioner is right that the police are at the forefront of the fight against terrorism, but I must say that I do not understand his statement about the police’s position on security matters. Contrary to what he says, the police’s stance is heard in discussions with the prime minister with senior police representatives who are invited to the discussions.”

He also addressed Alsheich's remark that he isn't often invited to meetings anymore. “I have a secretary who is a police superintendent. There is a police representative in the counterterrorism headquarters, and the commissioner is invited occasionally to discussions, like in the matter of magnetometers or on the subject of the South. I must say that I don't agree with this statement. I do not remember that such a problem was raised in our conversation,” he said.

Erdan also criticized Alsheich for having said at the conference on Wednesday that three years is not long enough for the police commissioner’s term and that it’s not enough time to make significant changes. "If they ask me to remain for another year, I will consider it," he had said.

Erdan said in response: “I do not think that the police commissioner should conduct this dialogue with the government through public conferences and the media. The right place to discuss this is through conversations between us.”

These remarks come following reports that Alsheich will not be offered a fourth year on the job, after his tenure ends in December, in light of his rocky relationship of late with Erdan and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

On Tuesday, Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit wrote a letter hinting that Netanyahu may need to stay out of the process for appointing the next police commissioner, to avoid a possible conflict of interest in light of the criminal probes pending against him.

Mandelblit appeared to hint to Erdan that since Netanyahu is under investigation in Cases 1000, the “illegal gifts affair”; 2000, the “Yediot Aharonot affair”; and 4000, the “Bezeq-Walla affair,” his involvement in selecting the top police official who could affect those investigations could be a conflict of interest.

Last week, Channel 2 reported that senior police officials had accused Jerusalem district police head Asst.-Ch. Yoram Halevy of holding secret talks with Netanyahu, with an eye to affecting the outcome of the investigations of the prime minister and helping to promote Halevy as the next commissioner of the Israel Police. Both the Prime Minister’s Office and the Israeli Police spokesman denied the report.

Yonah Jeremy Bob contributed to this report.

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