Police recommend indicting Netanyahu lawyer in Submarines Affair

The police noted that there had not been sufficient evidence of offenses by attorney Netanyahu’s trusted legal adviser Yitzhak Molcho, who will escape indictment.

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November 8, 2018 12:38
4 minute read.
Israel navy

Israel’s fourth submarine is en route to the navy's Haifa base from Germany. (photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN'S OFFICE)

 
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The Israel Police has completed its investigation into Case 3000, also known as “the Submarines Affair,” and has gathered sufficient evidence against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s lawyer, confidant and relative David Shimron as well as former Israel Navy commander Eliezer Marom, to recommend indictments against them on counts of bribery, among other alleged crimes.

The police will recommend to the State Prosecutor’s Office that six suspects should be prosecuted: Shimron, Marom, former deputy head of the National Security Council Avriel Bar-Yosef, Brig.-Gen. (res.) Shai Brosh, former minister Modi Zandberg and David Sharan, former chief of staff in the Prime Minister’s Office.

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The police noted that there had not been sufficient evidence of offenses by Netanyahu’s trusted legal adviser, attorney Yitzhak Molcho, who will therefore escape indictment.

In Case 3000, public officials, business and senior executives – either directly or through business and private companies – are suspected of having used their connections to profit from Israel’s acquisition of submarines and vessels from the German corporation ThyssenKrupp, along with the promotion of additional business interests.

Miki Ganor, ThyssenKrupp’s sales representative in Israel turned state’s witness, allegedly perpetrated fraud along with the other suspects in a deal for Israel to buy nuclear submarines from the German company.

According to the terms of his agreement, Ganor will be tried on suspicion of tax offenses, and will serve a 12-month prison sentence and be fined NIS 10 million in exchange for his cooperation with the state and providing further information about the case.

Opposition leaders responded to the police recommendations by calling for Netanyahu to resign.

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“For years, Netanyahu created a culture of government corruption,” said opposition leader Tzipi Livni. “Those who are concerned about security do not allow their confidants to meddle with security for personal gain. Whether he knew or not, he should have known. When corruption reaches the security of Israel, when the people closest to it are the ones who corrupted it – the prime minister has to resign.”

“If the prime minister knew what his associates were involved in, he should resign,” Zionist Union leader Avi Gabbay said. “If he didn’t know, he should resign because he is not fit to lead the defense establishment.

“Stealing money from the defense establishment is a betrayal of IDF soldiers,” he added. “With this money we could have bought armored personnel carriers instead of the old ones that our soldiers were forced to use during the last Gaza war four years ago.”

Netanyahu himself was questioned in connection with the case but not as a suspect.

Chairman of the Knesset’s State Comptroller Committee MK Shelly Yacimovich said the recommendations against officials so close to Netanyahu leave two options: “Either he was a partner to it all, or he is a blind, naive and clumsy person who surrounds himself with a corrupt environment which exploits him and trades with state assets and seriously harms its security in order to pocket money.”

In the same vein, Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid said that the police recommendations to indict the former navy commander, among other crucial position holders and staff close to the prime minister, “do not allow for Benjamin Netanyahu to continue to serve in his post.

“Netanyahu owes the public an explanation,” Lapid said. “What else didn’t he know? How did it happen that those around him allegedly earned tens of millions under the table in a sensitive arms deal that he personally managed? How was it possible that he did not know, and why did he authorize the sale of advanced submarines to Egypt while it was hidden from the defense minister, the Ministry of Defense and the IDF? If all this happened without Netanyahu knowing what was going on in his office, he is not fit to continue in his position.”

Netanyahu said in 2017 that the sale of German submarines to Egypt was a German decision and that Israel did not “approve or disapprove,” but expressed its opinion. Lapid, who was a member of the security cabinet in Netanyahu’s last government, said that the prime minister gave Germany the okay to sell Egypt the submarines.

Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit on Thursday described the affair as “a very difficult affair. It is a very significant affair, it took two years [to investigate]... It’s serious and now the case will go to the state prosecutor who will check it and make decisions.”

Former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon said that: “From the first moment, I said this is the largest, most serious corruption scandal in the history of the state, and that there is no chance that the investigation will end without indictments – and I was right.
“At the same time, I reiterate that the fact that Netanyahu was not questioned under caution in the affair, [and] the fact that such investigative measures as refraining from searching his lawyers’ office, against whom – at least one of them – the police has gathered substantial evidence for an indictment, raises difficult questions about the management of the investigation... Surprisingly, although Netanyahu was not categorized as a suspect by the police or the State Prosecutor’s Office, [the investigation] was conducted under tight supervision by the attorney-general in a manner usually reserved for interrogations in which the prime minister is involved,” Ya’alon continued. “This is just one of the many questions I have for the attorney-general about the conduct of the investigation.”

Police sources, however, told Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot that Lapid and Ya’alon’s attempts to tie Netanyahu’s name to the allegations against the suspects were “very far from what they told police,” when they testified in connection with the case.

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