(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is implicated in the “submarines affair,” earning him a sharp response from the Likud on Saturday.
“The fact that ‘Bogie’ Ya’alon’s testimony was called ‘a collection of gossip’ by senior police sources doesn’t prevent him from continuing to chatter obsessively in order to get another bit of attention from the media,” a statement by the party read. “It’s simply embarrassing.”
The Likud pointed out that “the prime minister is not a suspect in the submarines affair, as law enforcement sources have clarified time after time, including this month.”
The submarines affair, also known as police Case 3000, is one in which civil servants and some working in the private sector are suspected of bribery, fraud, money laundering and tax offenses in connection with the government’s purchase of submarines and other naval vessels from German shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp.
Among the suspects are Netanyahu’s personal lawyer David Shimron; former National Security Council deputy chief retired Brig.-Gen. Avriel Bar-Yosef; Netanyahu’s former chief of staff David Sharan; and ThyssenKrupp’s Israeli representative Miki Ganor.
Speaking at a cultural event on Saturday, Ya’alon said: “Everyone around him is already being interrogated as suspects. And he didn’t know? If he didn’t know, he’s not a good manager. He should go home for that. And if he did know, he should go to prison.
“In my estimation,” the former defense minister continued, “Netanyahu is not being investigated in the submarines affair because, if it turned out he was involved, it would be a death blow to national security and, even when we need them, no one will sell us submarines.”
Ya’alon quit the Knesset and the government in 2016 when Avigdor Liberman was put in the defense minister’s post, though Netanyahu offered him the Foreign Ministry. He has said he plans to form a new party ahead of the next election.
According to Zionist Union chairman Avi Gabbay, that election may be near.
“I estimate that there will be an election soon,” Gabbay said at a cultural event in Shoham on Saturday, repeating a prediction he has made in the past.
He added that he will be able to form a coalition with Yesh Atid, Meretz and Kulanu.
Gabbay shrugged off his soured relationship with Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, whose Kulanu party Gabbay quit in 2016 before joining Labor and winning its leadership primary.
“We and Kahlon have shared opinions... After the election, there will be mergers and when we see what happens we can move forward. I don’t see any problem with inviting Kahlon so we can work together,” he said.