PM Benjamin Netanyahu.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The controversial naval vessel deal that has led to the house arrest of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s attorney and confidant David Shimron must be stopped, 13 MKs on the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee wrote to committee chairman Avi Dichter on Sunday.
The MKs wrote to Dichter saying the committee could still stop the deal by refusing to authorize funding for it.
They said that recent dramatic developments in the case require delaying the authorization until after the agreement has been fully probed.
“Over the past few months, we have all witnessed the concerns that the process of acquiring the vessels was marred by the involvement of parties with special interests who are directly connected to the prime minister and his associates,” the MKs wrote.
The MKs complained that the police have unearthed new information about the agreement which was not presented to them when the committee voted to authorize funding for the deal.
“The Knesset must have authority over oversight and serve as a watchdog,” the MKs wrote. “We believe it is wrong to advance an agreement that is being checked by police in an investigation that is continuing to intensify.”
The Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court has extended the remands of Miki Ganor and Avriel Bar-Yosef, two key suspects in the corruption investigation into contracts to acquire three more German- made submarines and other ships, termed Case 3000.
Ganor, who is the Israel representative of the German shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp that was contracted to supply Israel with the vessels, is suspected of fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy to commit a crime. Retired Brig.-Gen. Bar-Yosef, a former deputy head of the National Security Council who played an important role in formulating an opinion in favor of acquiring the submarines, is suspected of fraud, breach of trust, money laundering, bribery, and conspiracy to commit a crime.
Their remands were extended on Thursday until Monday.
Another key suspect, David Shimron, who is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s personal lawyer and distant relative, was released to house arrest on Monday and questioned a third time on Thursday.
The letter was initiated by Zionist Union MK Erel Margalit, who went to Germany seeking evidence about the deal and later submitted that evidence to police and to Dichter.
The letter was signed by nine MKs from the Zionist Union, two from Meretz and one from Yesh Atid. The only coalition MK who signed it was Rachel Azaria of Kulanu, who said her decision to sign the letter was purely professional and not political.
“This should not be a matter of coalition and opposition,” she said. “As far as I am concerned, I have a responsibility to make sure the defense budget is used properly, especially as this issue gets more complicated. It must be properly checked.”
Dichter responded that he forwarded the issue to professional officials in the Knesset, including the committee’s legal adviser, and was awaiting their response before deciding how to handle the issue.
“Margalit delivered dozens of [pieces of] evidence in English that must be examined and taken seriously before a decision is made,” a source close to Dichter said.Eliyahu Kamisher contributed to this report.